Ben is poster boy for Games

Swindon Advertiser: Olympic torchbearer Ben Fox with pupils from Westlea Primary School. Ben visited his old school with a billboard of himself and other torch runners Olympic torchbearer Ben Fox with pupils from Westlea Primary School. Ben visited his old school with a billboard of himself and other torch runners

WHEN torchbearer Ben Fox went to get his photo taken next to a larger-than-life billboard poster of himself, little did he know he would be taking it home with him.

The 16-year-old, of Westlea, who carried the Olympic Flame through Royal Wootton Bassett High Street on Wednesday, found workmen were taking the Coca-Cola sponsored poster down when he reached the display near Bristol Temple Meads station this weekend.

The workers said he could keep it and yesterday he took it to Westlea Primary School, where he was once a pupil, to show the children and speak to them about carrying the torch.

“They were just taking the poster down when we got there,” he said.

“They said we could have it and we folded it up. The guys doing it wanted pictures with the torch as well.

“I want to have it as wallpaper in my room, but I’m not sure if it will fit. It is the biggest billboard you can get.”

Ben, who carried the torch from the War Memorial to Lime Kiln, was born with several defects in his vital organs and limbs, and was born with no right leg, as a result of an extremely rare condition called Vater syndrome.

He features in the billboard poster alongside singer Eliza Doolittle and a host of other torchbearers for the Olympic torch relay, which are being displayed across the country.

Other posters feature The Wanted and Dizzee Rascal.

“It has been amazing coming back to my old school to show them,” he said.

The teenager, who was part of the Coca-Cola Future Flame relay, completed the journey unaided but had to stop several times to swap the hands he was carrying the torch and his crutch in.

He told the assembly yesterday that he also had to keep stopping to pull his trousers up.

“Six years ago I was at school here too,” he said.

“If you really want to do something, then just keep going because you can be up here carrying the torch or getting a gold medal, so don’t give up.”

His mum, Carol Hearne, ran beside him shouting words of encouragement as he completed the route last Wednesday. She was also at yesterday’s assembly.

“It is just really nice to be able to bring it back to the school so they can share the memory,” she said.

“When something like this happens, you have to remember who helped you get there.”

Marla Carroll, teacher and co-organiser of the special resource provision for physically disabled pupils at the school, has known Ben since he was in Year 5.

“Ben is an inspiration for the physically disabled kids we have got in our school now,” she said.

“Having one leg and being physically disabled doesn’t stop you in your dreams in any way, shape or form. I get so involved with the children and families. It was lovely to be there in Royal Wootton Bassett and be part of it.”

On August 11 and 12, the South West Scorpion Wheel-chair Basketball Club, of which Ben is joint captain, will be attempting to beat the Guinness World Record for the longest ever wheelchair basketball match.

The record stands at just over 26 hours and the team will aim to play for 30 hours non-stop.

To find out more, visit www.southwestwbc.com.

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