Reading Olympic Torch Relay runners
July 09, 2012
With the youngest aged just 12 and the oldest 74, Reading will see a huge cross-section of the community running with the Olympic Torch through the town this week.
Many are ardent fundraisers from the town, while others have embodied the Olympic spirit by overcoming adversity or challenges to achieve great things.
Here we showcase who you are set to cheer.
Tuesday, July 10
Reading man Anthony Tyler, 45, has raised more than £40,000 for the charity WaterAid by running 12 marathons in the last five years – sometimes dresses as a camel or a sheikh. He also sometimes raises money by running around the town centre with a bucket on his head. He is general chemistry manager for Thames Water at its Vastern Road base.
Londoner Anthony Eastaway ran the London Marathon for UNICEF this year. He said: “The London Marathon was always one of those events I wanted to run in ever since watching it on TV as a little child, but life got the better of me in recent years and, without going into too many details, I overcame these obstacles and completed one of my goals in life.”
Mr Eastaway, 42, has raised £7,000 by taking part in the Paris to Geneva cycle ride and several half marathons over the last year.
David Boyd, 31, will be running with the torch through his home town. He was nominated by colleagues at Deloitte, who say “he is extremely patient and will offer to help anyone he can”.
Since his wife was diagnosed with cancer he has raised money for several charities by running various races. His nominators added: “David is an inspiration both in and out of the office.”
Heathrow worker Dhesi Dhesi, from Middlesex, has got involved with a range of the airport’s Olympic activities and encouraged his co-workers to join in.
The 35-year-old has also organised a charity bike ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End, during which he encouraged the team to take the Three Peaks challenge.
Harrow woman Elaine Hart, 54, was a latecomer to sport but says it changed her life.
She said: “I was an overweight child and, as such, was not encouraged to participate in sporting activities. However, I lived very close to a swimming pool and spent a lot of time there so, when swimming lessons became part of my school curriculum, I was suddenly a champion.
“It was a wonderful feeling – I urge everyone to find an activity that they will enjoy.”
During the games she will be a journey leader for BAA, leading a group of volunteers and helping people get to the Olympic venues.
Born and bred in Reading, Gordon Ralphs has worked for Thames Water for 18 years, but was diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer in 2009 at the age of 47.
Mr Ralphs is responding to treatment and hopes his taking part in the torch relay will help him to save lives.
He said: “I want to make a difference – to raise awareness so that others can spot the symptoms before it’s too late.
“I want to show people that even though I have an incurable disease I can still go on.”
Lee Silk, 23, works with children by encouraging them to participate in sports and use it in their literacy and numeracy lessons.
Mr Silk, from Reading, said: “I hope that in future I can help even more young people aspire and feel motivated to do all they can through the power of sport.
“I have set up a scheme where people that have low attainment levels in literacy and maths have the opportunities to increase their skills in these subjects through football.”
Former Reading Pride chairwoman Lorna McArdle hopes running with the torch will help her raise awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.
Quentin ‘Q’ Gunderson is the manager at independent charity-run school the Reading TLG Centre (formerly The Lighthouse Group) in Langley Hill, Calcot.
Through his work he has helped countless children get opportunities and education they may not have done otherwise.
The 41-year-old Reading man is also raising money for TLG by spending his 40th year running 40 marathons – a total of 1,040 miles – and has done an Iron Man triathlon.
His nominator said: “The work he does has a huge impact for young people and their families across three local education authorities and he has inspired many others to do the same.”
Amy Kunicki is 21 and has been helping at Reading Cygnets, a swimming club for people with learning difficulties, autism and Down’s syndrome, since she was 14.
She has now gone to university and is no longer based in the town for much of the year, but still stays actively involved in the club and teaches when she is at home.
She is a keen sportswoman and has swum at regional and national levels. At some point she says she would like to swim the Channel.
Since going to university in York she has continued with her community work helping at a psychiatric hospital.
Her nominator said: “I can’t think of a young person more deserving of the chance to carry the Olympic Torch.”