An Olympic torch discovered after 60 years in a Leicestershire college is lighting the way to London 2012, answering critics with a legacy inspiring thousands of young people across the UK – and beyond.
Loughborough College found the torch, used during the last London Games, in a filing cabinet and put it at the heart of Flames: Lighting the Way, a programme promoting sports, health and fitness and the Olympic and Paralympic values and now the project, which began locally, is now so successful it has reached 22,500 young people – and is going global.
The torch was bequeathed to the college by Commander Bill Collins, who taught athletics there and was the organiser of the 1948 Olympic Torch Relay. The flame travelled 1,964 miles from Greece to Wembley and after carrying the flame and passing it on, runners kept their torch as a memento.
When the torch was found Chris McGeorge, Elite Sports Officer at Loughborough College, became its custodian. Each of the schools and colleges taking part in Flames has the opportunity to finish their own programme by recreating the Olympic relay using the historic item.
Now Flames, developed in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, is set to go global with its first ever trip overseas.
Chris McGeorge has taken the flame to Brunei where more than 1000 people took part in a relay with the 1948 torch, led by the British High Commissioner, the country’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports and the American and Chinese ambassadors.
The College has been working with Brunei for several years and it is fantastic to take Flames beyond the UK for the first time and to be meeting with Prince Sufri to talk about the project.
“There has been a lot of criticism, including from the Chairman of the British Olympic Association Lord Moynihan, that the 2012 Olympics will fail to deliver any lasting sporting legacy for most young Britons.
“It’s being said that since the UK won the bid the pledge to deliver a national, sporting revolution in schools hasn’t been honoured.
“Well Loughborough College is proving those critics wrong. Flames is having a massive impact
“We are not only ensuring a healthier, more active next generation but with 450 tutors trained and an incredible 4,500 leaders already recruited we are also securing a volunteering legacy from this summer’s Games for the youth of the UK.
“And the Loughborough College sports students, many of whom are set to compete in this summer’s Games, who have become Flames Ambassadors are a huge inspiration to the young people we meet in schools and clubs across the country.
“Now we are talking to Brunei royalty and the British High Commissioner about Flames. It really is amazing.”
Loughborough College has also launched a successful apprenticeship initiative, training their students to assist with the teaching of PE and school sport which is enabling schools to provide full-time school sport and physical activity provision to almost 3,500 children.
“And we will soon be opening our Elite Athlete Performance Centre, the first of its kind in the country, helping to train the UK’s sports high achievers and Olympians of the future.
“With us already reaching approximately 30,000 young people across the UK and now taking the London 2012 message beyond our shores, I think it is fair to say we are making a significant contribution to that national sporting revolution.”