Lewes Olympic torchbearer stunned and proud

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TWO inspirational Lewes personalities will help to carry the Olympic torch through Sussex this summer.

Stephen Brooks and David Bradford both battled back against disability and now play their part in the flame’s epic journey around Britain.

Stephen, 45, will be a torchbearer in Lancing on July 16.

He originally trained as a butcher, but his world was rocked by ill-health.

He underwent a kidney transplant soon after getting married and early this year had an eye removed after contracting a rare form of cancer.

Stephen, of Church Twitten, Lewes, now works in the library of the University of Brighton at Falmer and said he was both stunned and proud to have been chosen.

His wife, Liz, paid a moving tribute to Stephen in nominating him for the Olympic honour.

She said: “When I met him he was on kidney dialysis and could not work full time, but was running pub quizzes and doing stand-up comedy routines between treatments.”

He undertook a ‘back to work’ course via the JobCentre and found a new career as a librarian. But shortly after the birth of their son, Danny, he was diagnosed with a rare form of melanoma in his eye.

Liz said: “He is a wonderful dad and a loving husband. He works full time, goes to the gym, plays guitar and entertains his friends with his wonderful sense of humour, playfulness and fun.

“He is on a cocktail of drugs to maintain adequate physical health, yet still finds time to cook amazing meals for his family and get down on the floor to play at cars and trucks with his two-year-old son. I love him so much and I would love the world to know what an amazing person he is. He truly embraces life and would take this opportunity to carry the Olympic torch with gusto.”

Meanwhile, 29-year-old David Bradford will be a torchbearer in Eastbourne on July 17.

The freelance journalist, of Southover High Street, Lewes, is losing his sight as a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa. His deterioratian meant he was no longer able to drive while working for Superbike Magazine, but he took his energy and enthusiasm and refocused them from motorcycling to running.

In 2010 this culminated in his running a personal best in the London Marathon – raising funds for RP research – in a remarkable 2h38m.

He has also organised running events locally to raise funds for RP Fighting Blindness and raised thousands of pounds.

Chief Executive of the charity David Head, in nominating David, said: “If everyone faced with such dramatic threats to their way of life responded so positively and with such a zest for life, the world would be a better place.

“Visually impaired and blind people would be proud to be represented by him as a torchbearer.”

The Olympic torch will be carried through Lewes on July 17 by local teenager Tom Glenn, 18, Gabriella Rogers, 12, from Horsham, and Steve Mcmenamin, 44, from Hurstpierpoint.

It is due to arrive in the town shortly after 2pm on day 60 of the torch’s progress, from Brighton via East Grinstead, Tunbridge Wells and Crowborough.

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From the A26 at Malling Down, it will proceed via Malling Street, Phoenix Causeway, Eastgate Street, High Street, Western Road and Brighton Road to the junction of Montacute Road from where it will proceed in convoy to the next leg of the relay in Eastbourne.

The names of most of the 8,000 people who will carry the flame on its 8,000-mile journey around the UK were confirmed this week.

The 70-day trek starts at Land’s End on the morning of May 19. It will visit every nation and region and stop off at landmarks such as Stonehenge and the Giant’s Causeway.

The torch will pass through more than 1,000 villages, towns and cities to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on July 27.

It is estimated that 95 per cent of the UK population will be within 10 miles of its progress.