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Olympic joy for our shining stars
NEARLY two months after the Olympic Torch came through Swindon, two inspirational men have had their moment to shine with the flame.
The torch returned to Wiltshire yesterday, making its journey from Reading to Salisbury and helping it along its way were 32-year-old Tom Toolan and 36-year-old Damien Davis.
Damien, from Cricklade, was first to take the baton as it passed through Ludgershall where hundreds of people lined the streets.
Damien, an IT manager, set up a group to help raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research after his friend Wayne Wilson lost his battle to the disease in January last year.
The Team Wayne group hit national headlines last year when their attempt at completing The Three Peaks Challenge saw them climb the wrong mountain and call out the mountain rescue team after suffering a catalogue of injuries.
Despite their mistakes, the group, led by Damien, have raised more than £10,000 for the charity – five times more than they set out to originally raise.
His story touched the Samsung Olympic Team who organised for him to carry the torch yesterday.
Speaking after his leg with the flame, he said: “I am overwhelmed with joy.
“It is very humbling and I am touched and so thrilled to be chosen.
“People joked about me getting lost and losing the torch, but that didn’t happen this time. There were plenty of marshalls to make sure of that.”
Tom, from Old Town, then took the mantle when the torch passed through Tidworth.
In April 2009, he was injured in a 50ft fall down a stairwell in Switzerland, leaving him with a damaged spinal cord, eight broken ribs and punctured lungs.
As a result of his injuries, Tom endured many operations; the longest lasting nine and a half hours, and he was in hospital for seven months.
Despite now being in a wheelchair, Tom carried the flame yesterday.
He said: “It was really good, it was a privilege to be there.
“The atmosphere was excellent. I got there at about 1.30pm and met all the other torch bearers and it is good to find out why they have been nominated.
“I cannot believe how busy it was, the crowds have been amazing all along the route.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so pleased to have the chance to be here.”