On the run with Olympic flame at Lewes

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A WOMAN from Lewes will be playing her part in the Olympic Torch Relay tomorrow (Saturday).

Georgie Friend was chosen to help carry the flame through Wolverhampton because of her outstanding work as Head of Sport at the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Unit.

Georgie, 30, a former pupil at Lewes Old Grammar School, has worked at the renowned Buckinghamshire hospital for five years.

She received a glowing tribute from her Torchbearer nominator, who said: “In the two months I spent in Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Unit in the summer of 2008 after breaking my back, Georgie Friend was the person who got me, and countless others in the same situation as I was in, through the trauma of learning we would never walk again.

“As Head of Sport, she oversees the active side of patients’ recovery from injury, giving them not only the strength and fitness to push themselves around in wheelchairs for the first time but also the skill to get their wheelchairs anywhere they want to go, including up and down stairs, so that they can return to having a normal life.

“She encouraged me to explore Paralympic sport and contacted the governing bodies of all the sports I liked the look of, which was far beyond the remit of her job, and thanks to her initial guidance I am now on the Great Britain Paralympic Athletics team.”

The nominator continued: “I addition to working tirelessly at the hospital helping new spinally injured patients to become active and independent again, Georgie also volunteers as a swimming coach for children with learning difficulties, and as an assistant to both the Stoke Mandeville and Great Britain wheelchair rugby teams.

“I have never met anyone so permanently positive and constantly willing to give up their time to help anyone, regardless of their ability, to reach their full potential and push past what they ever expected of themselves.

“Georgie is truly one of a kind and deserves the honour of being recognised as a Torchbearer for London 2012.”

Georgie, now living in Aylesbury, was a volunteer helper with the Southover Church Monday Club in Lewes, Southover Youth Group and local Brownies. She also worked as a volunteer at Chailey Heritage.

She will be cheered on in Wolverhampton by proud parents Chris and Judy Friend, of King Henry’s Road, Lewes, her brother Toby and his wife Katy, and niece and nephew Hannah, six, and Peter, two.