Spen folk carry torch for games

Swimmer Matthew Johnson with his medals from the European Youth Olympic Festival. (d02081102)
Swimmer Matthew Johnson with his medals from the European Youth Olympic Festival. (d02081102)

SPEN will be represented during the Olympic Torch route – despite the iconic flame bypassing the valley.

Fund raiser Haydn Pitchforth, athlete Sarah Holt and swimmer Matthew Johnson have all been given the honour of carrying the Olympic Torch through towns in West Yorkshire. However, the Spen Valley has been left off the route.

Mr Pitchforth, 45, from Heckmondwike, has been chosen after completing charity events – including a 200 mile bike ride, Yorkshire and national Three Peak challenges – and will be joining two other torch bearers for a cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats during the Olympics.

He will run with the flame through Beverley on June 18.

He said: “It’s just starting to sink in. It’s a privilege and acknowledges the work I’ve done for charity.”

Swimmer Matthew Johnson will also carry the Olympic Torch.

The 16-year-old former Spen Valley Sports College pupil has been chosen to carry the torch through Beeston in the relay after being nominated to be a torchbearer by both the Olympic Committee and British Swimming.

Matthew’s dad Ian Johnson said his son, who won a bronze medal just last week at the British Gas Championships, was “thrilled to be picked” and was looking forward to taking on the opportunity.

Finally, former Whitcliffe Mount pupil Sarah Holt will run with the torch through Batley.

Sarah, 24, is hoping to be part of Team GB in the hammer event. She has flown out to Oregon, USA, for a six-week training camp. She hopes to qualify for the games over the next few months.

Sarah said: “I’m really excited about this. It’s something different to look forward to and something I will always remember.

“I’ve always wanted to compete at the Olympics as it is the pinnacle of the sport and I’m working towards that goal.”