A HARTLEPOOL man chosen as a torchbearer for the London 2012 Paralympic Games declared “it was an experience of a lifetime”.
Robert Powell, 29, was one of 625 people to carry the Paralympic Flame after being nominated for the work he does with people who have learning disabilities.
The former Brierton School pupil, who now lives in central London, took part in the Torch Relay in the early hours of Wednesday morning as it made its way to the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.
He was carrying the Flame for half-a-mile in Harrow, north London and after a slight delay finally got his chance at 5.30am.
Proud Robert, who works at a London law firm, said: “I carried the torch at 5.30am but it was well worth it.
“What an experience.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a fantastic honour.”
The Torch Relay started over a week ago when four teams of torchbearers scaled the four highest peaks of the UK, Ben Nevis in Scotland, Snowdon in Wales, Scafell Pike in England and Slieve Donard, in Northern Ireland, to create a national flame in each country.
The national flame was then taken to its respective capital city before making their way to Stoke Mandeville, home of the Paralympic movement on Tuesday.
From there, the flames were united before being carried by torchbearers in teams of five in an overnight relay from Stoke Mandeville to the Olympic Stadium to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony.
He grew up in Caledonian Road, Hartlepool, and his mum Linda Powell, 52, still lives in town.
Robert also has a brother, David, 27, who is currently travelling around New Zealand.
Robert was nominated by his colleagues from his law firm, CMS Cameron McKenna, through the Lloyds TSB public campaign in recognition of his work for various charities but most recently for Special Olympics GB.
They provide year round sports training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities.
In January, Robert is being seconded for two weeks to work for Special Olympics GB at the Special Olympics World Winter Games, in PyeongChang, South Korea, where he will be working as their PR co-ordinator.