Action man Iain is in the frame for being Olympic torch bearer

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KEEN archer and Celtic FC fan Iain Macdonald from Duns is one step closer to realising his dream, after being nominated to carry the Olympic torch when it passes through the region next spring.

Olympic organisers are looking for a total of 8000 people to be nominated to carry the torch as it journeys around the country over 70 days from May 19 until the final torch bearer carries the flame into the Olympic Stadium in London during the opening ceremony on July 27, 2012.

Over 2,000 will be chosen by the organising committee who are looking for someone who deserves their ‘moment to shine’ and the other torch bearers will be chosen by Olympic 2012 partners - Lloyds TSB (looking for people who have made a difference); Coca Cola who want to find torch bearers with a passion for life, sport and community who spreads happiness; and Samsung are on the hunt for local heroes.

Nominations have already closed for those to be chosen by the organising committee, and Coca Cola (closed this Monday) and Lloyds TSB and Samsung will also have completed the initialy stage of nominations by the end of September.

Recently retired Berwickshire High deputy head Alistair Christie has been nominated as a Lloyds TSB torchbearer, while Coca Cola’s search for “someone with a burning passion who deserves to carry the Olympic flame” has unearthed six passionate Borderers including Iain.

Nominees’ passion for life could be for sports, an active lifestyle, music, dance, community, the environment - for Iain it is his passion for an active lifestyle, despite his disability, that has put him in the frame for being considered as a torchbearer.

He is thrilled about being nominated and said: “It is my dream to carry the Olympic flame!”

“Despite my disability I have huge determination to do well.”

The physical restrictions caused by cerebral palsy mean 58 year old Iain is confined to a wheelchair but his strong will and sheer determination to live life to the full often results in him finding a way round obstacles that stand in his way.

Iain was one of the first beginners to start at DunsArchery when the club was formed at the end of 2009 and he rarely misses a week.

“Iain shoots from his wheelchair and is getting better all the time.

“The cerebral palsy means he can’t walk and his movement is limited so he can’t pull the bow the same as an able bodied person but that doesn’t stop Iain,” said fellow club member Barney.

So far Iain’s archery shoots have been restricted to the indoor events but now that Barney can drive the Berwickshire Wheels bus it may open up more opportunities for taking Iain with them when the club journey to an outdoor event.

“Each time I go to archery my score improves and I feel so proud,” said Iain.

He also casually mentions: “I tried chair ski-ing last winter with assisstance and I would like to learn to ski more independently.

“I enjoy doing new exciting things. I am planning to go to France next year for the first time.

“I enjoy achieving things and my personal assistant Carol helps me to participate in various things - charity walks, painting and exciting sports such as speed boating and ski-ing.

“I share my experience with other people and tell them how I went about overcoming barriers which my disability sometimes presents.

“I also campaign for better access across the Scottish Borders.”

As a youngster Iain made the most of a number of opportunities such as archery and fencing but after school there was little opportunity for his adventurous side to come out.

However, since moving to Station Court, Duns, from Marchmont Hose, which was home to Iain and many other disabled people for a number of years, opportunities have opened up for him and he is determined not to let a single one of them pass him by.

His carer Cathy Boyd explained: “ When Iain moved to Station Court it was the first time he had been able to go to the shops and pick his own food and it made being part of the archery club possible.”

During a holiday in Aviemore, Iain and his two carers were talking to a member of staff on the funicular railway who told them that Iain would be able to go ski-ing if he wanted to.

He gave them a number to call, they did so and in February this year Iain had a day’s ski-ing in what is described as a ski pod. He enjoyed himself so much that arrangements are being made to take him over to the artificial slope at Braehead.

But it’s not just his action man stunts and joie de vivre that make Iain stand out - his social conscience led to him taking up a campaign for better wheelchair access into both Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland premises in Duns, getting Borders MP Michael Moore, and Berwickshire councillors involved.

Following a meeting at Station Court with local politicians and bank representatives a course of action was agreed.

Iain was nominated by fellow DunsArchery Club member Barney who said of him: “Iain’s enthusiasm for life, including archery, despite his challenges, is a pleasure to see.”

All torch bearer nominations will go before a judging panel for each of the Olympic partners and succesful nominees, who accept their nominations, will now have to wait until December when they will receive a conditional offer, with places confirmed in February next year.

And here’s hoping that Iain’s ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ attitude to life will impress the Coca Cola judges enough to persuade them that he is an ideal candidate to be one of the 8,000 torch bearers, giving him his ‘moment to shine’.