City residents could carry flame

Joan Kirk, far right, has been nominated to carry the Olympic torch after 50 years of involvement with Kirkby Malzeard WI
Joan Kirk, far right, has been nominated to carry the Olympic torch after 50 years of involvement with Kirkby Malzeard WI

A 79-year-old woman and 17-year-old school student are among the community heroes from the Ripon area nominated to carry the Olympic torch.

Joan Kirk, a stalwart of Kirkby Malzeard WI and village life, and 17-year-old Natalie Clayton are among those in the running to “carry the flame” for the area on the Olympic torch relay.

Mrs Kirk was nominated by the North Yorkshire West federation of WIs in honour of her long-service to the group in Kirkby Malzeard.

After being invited along to a WI meeting by a neighbour in 1957, Mrs Kirk has been an active member ever since.

She also served as a governor at Kirkby Malzeard primary school for 36 years, helped set up Highside Playing Fields Association and served as its secretary for 30 years, helped set up a walking group in Kirkby Malzeard and has walked both the Dales Way and the Ripon Rowel walk to raise money for charity.

Mrs Kirk said: “I felt very proud to be nominated because it’s an honour. I’ll be eighty next year and I think it’s wonderful that somebody should nominate me out of the blue.”

Also hoping to carry the torch for Ripon is 17-year-old Natalie Clayton.

Natalie, who is studying for her A-levels at Ripon Grammar School, is the school’s Sports Captain and has been nominated by her PE teachers for her dedication to volunteering in school and at Ripon Swimming Club.

Natalie coaches the school’s under 13 hockey team and has taught young swimmers at the Ripon Spa Baths for the last three years, and is hoping to carry on her dedication to sports by studying Sports Rehabilitation at university.

Also nominated are Burton Leonard man Gary Wilks, and Cath Colman from Ripon.

Gary has been running marathons to raise money for charity for a number of years, but was nominated for the torch relay by a neighbour.

“She broke both her hips so I helped her by taking her shopping and things, but it came as a bit of a shock to be nominated. I’ve got my fingers crossed.”

Cath Colman has been nominated by the children of St Wilfrid’s RC Primary school, where she works as a dinner lady and is a dedicated volunteer helping out with school sports.

“It’s actually quite humbling that somebody thinks so much of me that they would nominate me,” Cath said.

“I would be overwhelmed to carry the torch, and I think it would be great for Ripon as well.”