Although they had to wait until a few weeks after the Olympic flame had made its way through the region, two Berwickshire torchbearers got their moment in the spotlight at the weekend when they completed their legs of the torch relay in Workington.
Foulden swimmer Toby Douglas and Eyemouth’s Alex McNeil made the trip to Cumbria after being selected for the honour.
Thirteen-year-old Toby was nominated by torch sponsor Nature Valley cereal bars after they learned about his dedication in the pool at Eyemouth Swimming Club.
After swimming competitively for just two years, Toby became the under 12 champion in the 50 metre freestyle and was overall under 12 champion in the Scottish schools championships, at Glasgow in January 2011.
In May last year at the Duns 500 swimming Gala, Toby also broke Euan Dale’s record in the 100-metre individual medley, which had stood for 11 years.
“I was really excited about running with the torch and being a part of the Olympics,” said Toby, whose dream is to represent Great Britain in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. There were so many people lining the streets all shouting and clapping. It really was amazing. When my torch was lit I felt excited and a bit nervous. When I passed the flame on I was really happy that I had been a part of the day. I am going to keep my torch on display in my house.”
Alex McNeil has been employed by Nature Valley for 34 years and has never been one to shy away from a challenge. He has been a keen fundraiser over the years raising over £3000 for SCOPE (for people with cerebral palsy) by ski-ing the daunting White Peaks Ski Challenge twice, skiing 24 mountains in two days.
And in 2010 at the age of 50, he ran his first marathon in New York raising over £4000 for Get Kids Going, a charity supplying sports wheelchairs for children and young adults.