“I WAS grinning from ear to ear,” said Dave Marsh on his once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to carry the Paralympic flame.
The Worthing-based EDF employee, who is a disability liaison officer, enjoyed a memorable day which included meeting London mayor Boris Johnson at the Olympic Park.
Joining hundreds of volunteers from across the country last Wednesday, he took custody of the torch through Southwark High Street, London.
Colleagues nominated him for his work supporting others and his determination to recover from a series of incidents including being in a serious biking accident more than 15 years ago, undergoing open heart surgery and also suffering a neck injury. He has also been greatly supportive of his wife Sue, who is registered disabled and has campaigned against Government funding cutbacks for disabled services.
An elated Dave, 44, of Lansdowne Road, said: “The torch-bearing went really well and was just an amazing experience. There was a delay of about three hours in the start, but when I got on board the Olympic bus I really felt the whole atmosphere of it.
“I thought that I would just be doing the torch, but my company really looked after us and arranged for me, my wife and children to go to the opening ceremony. It was just indescribable. While the Olympics has helped inspire young people to get into sport, I hope the Paralympics helps inspire people to look at those with disabilities and realise they are not much different from anyone else.”
Mr Marsh said it was a privilege to meet Boris Johnson. He thanked his firm for paying to keep the torch he carried, which he will place in a special chest of personal treasures which has been in the Marsh family for 400 years.
His wife Sue has featured in national media campaigning for disability rights and welcomed the global Paralympics coverage.
However, she has expressed concern over removal of key benefits including the disability living allowance, affecting around half a million people in the UK, including many Paralympic athletes.