Battle’s finest chosen to carry Olympic Torch

THE teenage founder of a national charity, a soldier who was seriously injured in Afghanistan and a man who started a sports club for disabled youngsters are amongst those who have been chosen as Olympic torchbearers.

Although the torch route will bypass Battle this summer, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has selected the finest from Battle and the surrounding area to take part in the torch relay.

Luke Lancaster, from Crowhurst, will be proudly holding the torch high as it makes its journey through Bexhill on July 17.

Luke founded Young Pioneers, which aims to help young people stay safe, be healthy and mange their carbon footprint, at the tender age of 12.

Now 16, Luke has won various national awards for his charity work and has the tricky challenge of balancing his role of CEO of a national charity whilst studying hard for his A-Levels at Bexhill College.

Luke found out on Sunday that he would be one of the torchbearers ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

He said: “First of all I was shocked. I had not realised I had been put in for it. Some of the people I work with are heavily into sport, so they are quite proud. My friends are very supportive.”

LOCOG said Young Pioneers, which is based at Ashburnham Place, was ‘an inspiration for young people across the country’.

Luke said: “Four years ago when I started it I never thought I would be running with the torch.

“It’s been a fun ride.”

Meanwhile Battle man Lance Corporal Martyn Compton will be amongst those taking the torch though Hastings on July 17.

Just over five years ago the soldier suffered appalling injuries in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan.

He had third degree burns to 70 per cent of his body and spent three months in a coma.

L/Cpl Compton, now 28, underwent gruelling rehabilitation and has undergone more than 60 hours of operations.

He later married partner Michelle who gave birth to the couple’s first child, Archie, at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings in November 2010.

Finally Paul Everest, who runs Westerleigh Judokwai at Claverham Community College in Battle, will be proudly taking the torch through the streets of Bexhill, also on July 17.

The 47-year-old founded Westerleigh Judokwai in 1995, which allowed children with disabilities to train alongside able-bodied youngsters.

Paul has won a number of coaching awards and has acted as assistant head coach and head coach at a number of international competitions, including the 2007 World Games in Shanghai, China.

He has been the regional chair for Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB) for five years, is a technical director for SOGB, a committee member for Hastings and Rother SOGB and sits on the English Executive Committee for SOGB.

Paul, who lives in St Leonards, has also written a paper with a consultant in clinical psychology on the impact of judo on high functioning autistic children.

A full time clinical team leader ambulance paramedic, Paul has three children, the eldest of whom has haemophilia, whilst the youngest suffers from diplegia cerebral palsy.

The nomination for Paul to carry the Olympic Torch said: “Paul always finds the time and commitment to give to his judo club, SOGB and family and friends, all of which are better for knowing him and infected with his enthusiasm, dedication and affection for life.

“He is truly one in a million.”

Eight thousand torchbearers will carry the Olympic Torch around Great Britain as it makes its journey through more than 1,000 cities, towns and villages between May 19 and July 27.

Battle itself is not on the torch relay route, but the torch will pay a visit Battle Abbey on July 18.

It will travel in convoy to the Abbey at 7.45am before the convoy heads to Hastings Funicular Railway at 8.17am to pick up the route, which will then head towards Rye.