An injured war veteran who was given only five minutes to live and a charity fundraiser are among those chosen to carry the Olympic torch on its journey through North East England and the Scottish Borders.
Aidan Kirkwood from Newcastle was seriously injured in Afghanistan in 2009. He was told by doctors at the time that his injuries were such that he would never be able to perform endurance sports to the level he once had.
But since then the 23-year-old has completed not only the Great North Run but walked the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall carrying all his equipment, raising £1,200 for charity in the process.
Aidan will carry the Olympic torch through Tow Law in County Durham on June 16. He will be joined by Nigel Cook from nearby Consett who will carry the flame through his hometown on the same day.
The 44-year-old who is a trustee of Willowburn Hospice in Lanchester, County Durham, has raised more than £23,000 in the last 10 months by running 10 half marathons in 10 different countries, including Morocco and inside the Arctic Circle in Norway.
The pair are among 8,000 inspiring people nationally who have been chosen to carry the Olympic Flame as torchbearers in the special London 2012 relay which starts at Land’s End on May 19.
The streets across the North East and the Borders where the torch will be carried between June 14-17 have also been announced.
After leaving Edinburgh it will travel down to Peebles, Innerleithen, Selkirk, Galashiels, Duns, Chirnside and Foulden before crossing into England at Berwick and heading down the coast to Bamburgh in north Northumberland and then inland to Alnwick where the torch will ‘rest’ for the night.
The following morning the torch convoy will leave Alnwick and travel along the coast through Warkworth, Amble, Ashington, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Choppington, Morpeth and Blyth.
It will then head down to Whitley Bay in North Tyneside, Cullercoats, Tynemouth, North Shields and Wallsend before crossing the boundary into Newcastle.
The torch will end its first full day in the North East by being transported across the River Tyne on a zipwire to Gateshead.
June 16 will see the torch leave the Sage Gateshead on its way to South Shields, Sunderland and Blaydon before heading back into Northumberland at Prudhoe and making its way along the Tyne Valley via Stocksfield, Hexham and Riding Mill.
It will then cross into County Durham and travel through Consett, Castleside, Tow Law, Esh, Langley Park and Durham.
June 17 will take the torch from Durham to Middlesbrough via Peterlee and Hartlepool.
The torch will be in the North East for four days.
An average of 115 Torchbearers a day will carry the Olympic Flame during its 8,000 mile journey around the UK, travelling through 1,000 villages, towns and cities.
It will arrive at the Olympic Stadium on July 27 for the lighting of the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, signifying the official start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The whole relay route will take 70 days to complete.
Nigel Walsh, cultural development manager at Northumberland County Council and lead officer for the Olympic visit, said: “I think we should be very proud that Northumberland has the torch for one of the longest periods of time for any county. We have been working very closely with communities along the route, most of which are planning some sort of celebrations.
“Where we have communities off the route, we will be looking to work with them in a positive manner to get them involved throughout the torch visit.
“We do acknowledge that there will be impacts, involving traffic management, from bringing a spectacle of this scale to the county, but they will be temporary and outweighed by the benefits it will bring to all our communities.”
The Olympic Flame will come within 10 miles of over 95% of the UK population and will be transported by a variety of different methods of transport, including boat, cable car, hot air balloon, bicycle, motorbike and horseback. Additionally it will pass many monuments, historic venues and sites of regional, national and international interest.
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport said: “This is a big day in the Olympic preparations – the Torch Relay will now come to life for millions of people.”
Sally Hancock, 2012 Partnership and Group Sponsorship Director, Lloyds Banking Group, added: ‘The Olympic Torch Relay provides a wonderful opportunity for communities the length and breadth of the UK to get involved with the Games and celebrate people in their local area who have made a difference.”
Millions of people who are taking a holiday in the North of England, or spending a day here, are expected to see the Olympic Torch.