Staff and students at the University of Bristol named as Olympic torchbearers
Press release issued: 22 March 2012
Students and staff from the University of Bristol are celebrating after being confirmed as Torchbearers for the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, which will be watched by millions of people around the world. Students Georgie Twigg, Bettina Urban and Teaching Fellow Shirley Hume will have their moment to shine on 23 May, when the iconic flame passes through Bristol. All three have said it will be “one of the most exciting moments” of their lives.
Bristol University was given a unique opportunity to choose individuals for three legs of the eagerly-anticipated journey thanks to the Samsung nomination programme, which saw the sponsor team up with 31 university partners across the UK.
Samsung, a partner of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, wanted to find individuals who always go the extra mile and was designed the nomination programme to reflect the core value of the Olympic movement and the rich heritage of each institution.
Teaching Fellow Shirley Hume, 61, was chosen for being an outstanding sportswoman and dedicated member of staff in the Department of Accounting and Finance. She’s run no less than 25 road marathons and completed 30 running events over 100 miles, in addition to being a keen long-distance cyclist.
Not only is she a popular personal tutor, but Shirley also helps students to fundraise and train for the London Marathon and various cycle challenges for charity, offering advice on routes, training, support and equipment.
Outside of work, Shirley is a volunteer ranger for Sustrans, a development officer at her local running club and also finds the time to organise a number of off-road ultra marathons.
Amazingly, she hasn’t missed a single lecture or tutorial despite having 16 operations for skin cancer.
Hazel Nendick, a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Management, nominated Shirley and said: “Shirley is an outstanding sportswoman and a totally dedicated member of staff, and all this whilst suffering from skin cancer. She is about to retire and I think she deserves to be honoured for her commitment to the University and her students and, as a fanatical runner, the Olympic torch relay is an appropriate opportunity to do so.”
Shirley said: “I am super excited and thrilled to be part of the torch relay. I have been watching the Olympics since 1960 and to be a part of London 2012, no matter how small, is incredible. It will certainly be one of the most exciting moments in my life.
“Sport has always been important to me and I have always tried to encourage my students to take part in sport and in raising money for charity in a 'hands on' way. Possibly my proudest possession is a yellow cycling jersey with the message 'No 1 pedal powered personal tutor', which was presented to me at graduation last year.”
Hockey player Georgie Twigg, who juggles her law studies with playing for Great Britain, has also been selected as a Torchbearer. She’s now entering the final months of preparation before London 2012 in July and August, by which time the original team of 30 hopefuls will have been reduced to 16.
Georgie, 21, divides her time between living in Clifton and playing for Clifton Ladies hockey club, and living in Buckinghamshire and training every week at the National Sports Centre at Bisham Abbey, which is widely known as a training ground for the England Football team.
Just last week she met Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, who made a private visit to the Olympic Park in Stratford to meet the Team GB women's hockey squad. She asked to meet them in her role as Team GB and Paralympics GB 2012 Ambassador because of her love for the sport.
Georgie, who’s hometown is Lincoln, said: “It was an absolute honour to be put forward by the University to be a torchbearer and I'm really excited to be a part of the procession. It is also an honour to be carrying the flame alongside so many inspirational people.
“It was absolutely amazing having Kate Middleton come to one our training sessions at the Olympic Park and it's fantastic to have her support. She took a real interest in us and even got stuck in and had a hit around with us.”
PhD student Bettina Urban was jointly nominated to be a torchbearer by the Students’ Union and Bristol University in recognition of her voluntary work.
Bettina, 28 from Redland, has been volunteering extensively since she started studying for her PhD in Dynamic Cell Biology in 2008, mainly through the Student Community Action (SCA) group - now UBU Volunteering, for which she is currently the Volunteer Development Officer.
She became a Project Co-ordinator for Breast Health Awareness in 2009, a group of students who visit community centres, choirs and women’s' groups to raise awareness of breast cancer and how important it is to check for symptoms regularly. She is also been the Project Coordinator for Painting and Decorating, a student group which redecorates the homes of low income families, people with disabilities or the elderly.
All this is in addition to organising the Big GIVE charity collection with the University’s Sustainability Department, which sees students and staff donate tonnes of unwanted items to local charities at the end of term.
Last year, Bettina also became chair of the SCA Plus committee, which is an independent UK charity which supports and funds Bristol student volunteering projects and events.
Her amazing extra-curricular endeavours are supplemented with her commitment to the University where she was the Postgraduate representative for the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and is currently the Postgraduate Research Representative on the University Senate.
Bettina said: “It is such an honour to be selected and allowed to be part of this epic event. I am sure this will raise awareness of all the amazing things Bristol students do for their community and fellow students.”
Fiona Sheppard, a 20-year-old biochemistry student, also received the offer to become a torchbearer in recognition of the amount of volunteering work she does in the community.
Fiona, who’s home town is Huntingdon, helps run a social group for adults with Asperger's and supports homeless charities and a hospice in Cambridgeshire. She will be carrying the famous flame on 4 July when it passes through Long Sutton.
She said she was "humbled and touched" to have been nominated by her friends.
The university representatives are among the 8,000 torchbearers who will carry the Olympic Flame across the UK in 70 days. Starting in Land’s End on 19 May, the Olympic Flame’s journey will reach more than 1000 cities, towns and villages across the UK, with 95 per cent of the UK population being within one hour’s distance of this historic event.
Each torchbearer will carry the flame for an average of 300m and the final allocation of who will run which part of the route has yet to be announced.
The Olympic Flame will be travelling through the streets of Bristol on 22 and 23 May with local street celebrations taking place along the route. The Olympic Flame will finish its epic journey and arrive at the Olympic Stadium in London on 27 July to mark the start of the Olympic Games.
For the full Olympic Torch Relay route, please see the London 2012 website.