Parents of torchbearers feel ‘let down’ by Olympics organisers

Olympic torchbearer Simon Meeson, The Green, St Leonards. Simon is pictured with his mother, Karen. They feel let down by Olympic organisers because Simon will not be torchbearing in Hastings.
Olympic torchbearer Simon Meeson, The Green, St Leonards. Simon is pictured with his mother, Karen. They feel let down by Olympic organisers because Simon will not be torchbearing in Hastings.
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THE parents of two Olympic flame torchbearers have criticised the Olympic Games committee over its decision on where to allocate runners this summer.

Karen Meeson said she felt ‘let down’ by LOCOG after being told her disabled son Simon, 19, had been allocated as a torchbearer in the village of Sandgate near Folkestone, 40 miles away.

A total of 20 torchbearers have been chosen to run along the Hastings and St Leonards seafront but only nine are from the local area.

Mrs Meeson, of The Green, said: “LOCOG has had seven years to sort this out.

“I can’t understand why my son has to run in a town where nobody knows him. It makes no sense at all.”

Mrs Meeson has been joined in criticising LOCOG’s decision-making by Jim Page, the father of Lawrence Page.

Lawrence, who suffers from learning difficulties, was chosen as a torchbearer after being nominated by the fire service for 25 years as a volunteer.

Jim Page, 74, of Essex Road, Hollington, said: “I think it’s disgusting. Why can’t these people sort it out.

“Why is a Korean woman running here instead of somebody from Hastings.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and any local torchbearer wants to celebrate it in Hastings, not Brighton or London.

“And why are we getting people from Brighton running here. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.”

Mrs Meeson contacted the Observer after reading last week about the majority of torchbearers coming from beyond the 1066 Country area.

Simon suffers from Cowden disease which causes tumours to grow in his body.

He was nominated by his mother and was looking forward to running in his home town.

Mrs Meeson, who works as a nurse at the Conquest Hospital, is now having to drive friends and family to Sandgate for midday on Wednesday, July 18.

One colleague at the Conquest has now had to book time off work to travel with the family to watch Simon’s moment in the spotlight.

Mrs Meeson said: “It’s so disappointing to hear that Simon will not be able to run in front of his friends and family.

“We expected to be see him running along the seafront here with everyone he knows cheering him on.

“Now we are told we have to go all the way to Sandgate in a town where nobody knows him.

“It’s really frustrating when you hear of people who are not from Hastings being made torchbearers here.

“I just don’t understand the logic. There is no real thought gone into it. A colleague has had to take time off work now.

“Would it not be better for people from Sandgate to run in that town? Surely after seven years they could have sorted all this out.”

LOCOG spokesman Annabel Gunnell said: “As we are not visiting every community in the UK, it is not possible to have all 8,000 people carrying the Olympic Flame in their home town.

“From the outset we have made it clear that we will endeavour to place people within an hour of their nomination address to ensure the majority of people are able to be cheered on by friends and family.However, when cases come to light where there are extenuating circumstances we will review the offer made.”