Shirley Waller delighted after U-turn by London 2012 organisers means she can carry Olympic torch through Market Deeping

Shirley is pictured with her guide dog Alfie
Shirley is pictured with her guide dog Alfie
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A BLIND woman is looking forward to carrying the Olympic torch after a U-turn by organisers.

Shirley Waller, 78, of Meadway, Market Deeping, was hoping to represent the town she has lived in for 12 years by proudly carrying the torch along part of its route.

But when the torchbearers and route were announced a fortnight ago, she discovered she had been earmarked for a section of the route in Mumby, near Skegness – 58 miles away from her home.

As we reported last week, she feared she would have to pull out because of difficulties with transport and training her guide dog Alfie.

But now London 2012 organisers have reviewed her case and she has been given a section of the route in Market Deeping.

Shirley said: “I am absolutely over the moon – so relieved it has been sorted out.

“When I found out I was supposed to be carrying the torch in Mumby, I was really upset. I didn’t even know where Mumby was.

“I haven’t been able to sleep for worrying about it so I am pleased it is all sorted.”

Shirley and Alfie are now looking forward to Wednesday, July 4, when she will carry the torch on its route. The vicar of St Guthlac’s Church has agreed to bless the torch before they sets off. She said: “I have a lot of friends in Market Deeping and I felt that if I was doing it in Mumby, I would be letting down all my friends who are coming to support me. My heart is in Market Deeping.

“Alfie loves lapping up the attention so I am sure we will both have a great day.”

The Olympic torch begins its journey in Market Deeping at 8.08am, having arrived in convoy from Peterborough. It will travel from the Market Deeping village sign, along Lincoln Road, into Church Street and onto Towngate West.

From there, the torch will travel in convoy from Market Deeping to Thurlby.

The previous day the torch will have travelled through Uppingham, Oakham, across Rutland Water, and into Stamford, before going onto Peterborough.

Shirley became partially sighted after she had measles at the age of six but her sight began to deteriorate further until she lost her sight completely in her 50s.

She remembers the last Olympics, which were held in the UK, in 1948, when she was a 14-year-old girl.

Shirley said: “We had a gymnastics team at school because of the Olympics and I had to go at the top. When you think back to all the time ago, it is an honour to be carrying the torch now.”

Shirley was nominated to carry the torch by the South Lincolnshire Blind Society, of which she is a member, and she thanked the society for its support in sorting out the situation.

A spokesman for London 2012 said: “As we are not visiting every community in the UK, it is not possible to have all 8,000 people carrying the Olympic flame in their home town.

From the outset we have made it clear that will endeavour to place people within an hour of their nomination address to ensure the majority of people are able to be cheered on by friends and family.

“However, when cases come to light where there are extenuating circumstances we will review the offer made.”