Inspiring Olympic torchbearers light the way for University
Inspirational people are set to light the way for the University of Sheffield next week (24 June – 26 June 2012) as they bear the Olympic torch through the streets of Sheffield and beyond.
Students, staff and alumni from the University are set to carry the torch along its route through the UK, having been successfully nominated for their inspiring example.
First year psychology student Simon Wheatcroft, 29, is a blind ultramarathon runner from Armthorpe, South Yorkshire. A degenerative eye disease left Simon without sight at the age of 18. Simon has been overcoming this disability to compete in ultramarathons by training with guide runners and, uniquely, has been teaching himself solo running out on the streets of Rossington, Doncaster, where he now lives.
Simon was chosen to carry the torch through Armthorpe on 26 June 2012. He said: "It feels amazing to be selected because obviously a lot of people were nominated to carry the torch. The torch is confirmation that other people have seen what I have done as a great achievement but at the end of the day, it's just everyday life for me."
Simon said that his University course gives him the edge in distance running, and could lead to coaching further down the line. He said: "When you're out there and you're running and you're falling apart, you're in tears, you're breaking down, you need to bring yourself back from the brink really, and understanding a little bit of psychology helps."
Another torch runner, Dr Elspeth Whitby, Radiologist and Researcher in the University’s Academic Unit of Reproductive and Developmental Medicine, was nominated by fellow radiographer Janet Morris for her devotion to helping others. She will carry the torch through Sheffield on 25 June as part of a 2012km challenge she is completing with her daughters to raise money for spinal injury charity Aspire.
Janet said: “Elspeth works tirelessly to achieve the best of herself and does everything she can to help other people to realise their own goals. She has a way of spreading her enthusiasm for life and boosting other people’s confidence in their own abilities.”
Dr Whitby’s research at the University has helped to develop an MRI service for women who have problems with their pregnancy and for new born babies. She also spends a great deal of time encouraging and supporting junior doctors. Janet cited a particularly poignant example of Dr Whitby’s commitment, adding: “She helped a young PhD student, who came from outside Sheffield, to complete her PhD whilst being treated for cancer, offering both morale and practical support, including putting her up in her own home when she was really ill.
“Tragically the student died before her PhD had been awarded and Elspeth then asked the university to award it posthumously, which they did, and her family came up to Sheffield to receive it.
“Elspeth is someone who helps, in some way, almost everyone she comes across in every avenue of her life and I think she deserves the honour of carrying the Olympic Torch.”
Dr Whitby will be one of 8,000 bearers in Britain, including first year Geography student at the University, Peter Moss. 18 year old Peter, originally from Castle Vale, Birmingham, was nominated for his outstanding charity work with deprived children from the area. Peter will bear the torch between Birmingham and Derby as it makes its way to Sheffield.
Peter volunteers for The Community Environmental Trust, an organisation which works with local residents, schools and organisations to promote the protection and renovation of urban green space. In his voluntary role, Peter helps children to gain new experiences and broaden their horizons by putting them in touch with nature and teaching them about the natural world. Peter was nominated for his work by project manager Rupert Johnson.
Peter said: “Charity is a key part of my life. Raising money is one thing, but actually going into the field, helping people and doing the work yourself is best. My work is about helping children away from dodgy areas of life and turning them into role models instead. To be recognised is a great honour, I’m so proud.”
Torchbearers have been chosen following the London 2012 Organising Committee’s Moment to Shine campaign, selected for the positive impact they have made upon their communities.
Taking the torch along its route from Sheffield to Cleethorpes will be Chris Ince, a graduate and current Masters student at the University. Now a science teacher, Chris studied Bsc Physics and PGCE Science Education at the University, and is now studying part time for a Masters in Education alongside teaching at Barnsley College.
Chris was nominated for being an inspirational science teacher and igniting a passion for science and education in his pupils. Chris said: “I feel incredibly honoured to be chosen out of so many nominations as someone to carry the torch - I can’t quite put into words how I feel. I’m nervous, proud and overwhelmed all at the same time.”
To donate to Dr Elspeth’s 2012km challenge for Aspire, visit:
The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK´s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen´s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom´s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.
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