Lighting the way - Ripon’s own Olympic torchbearers

Olympic torch bearers Helen Mackenzie and Tom Hildreth at Ripon Grammar School.  (111214M2b)

Olympic torch bearers Helen Mackenzie and Tom Hildreth at Ripon Grammar School. (111214M2b)

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A RIPON woman said she is “as happy as a dog with two tails” after hearing she is to carry the Olympic torch the day it passes through the city.

Sports teacher Helen Mackenzie is one of 5,600 lucky people offered a chance to carry the torch on its journey round Britain before the London games next summer.

Olympic torch bearers Helen Mackenzie and Tom Hildreth at Ripon Grammar School.  (111214M2a)

Olympic torch bearers Helen Mackenzie and Tom Hildreth at Ripon Grammar School. (111214M2a)

She will take hold of the torch on June 19, the day it passes through Ripon on its journey from Hull to York.

Helen was given the good news in an email on Thursday, December 8.

“I knew I had been nominated by several different people so I was quite hopeful but not expectant.

“When I saw I had got through I screamed, I cried and I laughed. It was a lovely moment.

“I lost my dad two years ago but I still use him as my standard. I know he would be so proud to see his little girl carrying the Olympic torch.”

“I am thrilled, especially because my job is championing sport in Ripon, so for the torch to come here is the culmination of my work for six years.”

The honour is all the more special for Helen as she has finally got the all-clear after a long battle with cancer.

“My health is brilliant now. I’ve been swimming everyday since September, and I’ve started running with my daughter which would have been unthinkable because of the pain.

“I’ve really been through the mill, but I am doing this for every woman who has felt that fear of finding a lump, or heard the word malignant.”

Helen runs Rock-it-Ball clubs in Ripon schools with Rock-it-Ball team mate Tom Hildreth, who has also been selected to carry the torch.

Tom, who lives in Newton-on-Ouse, said he is honoured to have been given the opportunity to carry a piece of history.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” he said.

“There must have been thousands of people nominated so it feels very special to have got through.”

The Olympic torch will pass through Ripon on June 19, arriving from Harrogate and travelling on to York. The following day it will pass through Thirsk, Northallerton and Bedale.