Press Office


There is a light that never goes out – we carry Olympic flame.

The Olympic torch will travel through the North East in June and our students and staff are helping it on its way.

The University ran a Torchbearer nomination scheme in conjunction with Samsung, to find volunteers who reflected Newcastle’s core values and heritage.??Two students and one member of staff were selected.

Town planning student Amy Priestley will carry the torch through Newcastle. The 22-year-old, from Leeds, is a keen volunteer and is involved with a number of University projects. ??She said: “When I applied it was one of those ‘why not’ moments. I knew I'd never get the chance to do anything like this again and thought I might at least put my name in the running.??

“I know that carrying the Olympic Torch will be one of the proudest moments of my life, and to find out that I had been selected from a group of people who had all achieved and contributed so much, was a very profound and surreal feeling.”

??Keen runner Gobinath Murugesapillai was also selected. The 21-year-old Biomedical Science student from Sri Lanka is an INTO buddy, a scheme which helps international students settle into life at Newcastle. ??He said: “It’s a rare event when a nation hosts the Olympics and because the games were held in London this time, I wanted to be involved in some way so when the opportunity to be part of history by running the torch relay came up, I immediately seized the chance and filled out the application.??“Even now I am absolutely thrilled and until I actually carry the torch and do my part, I don’t think words can describe the excitement.”??

University Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Professor Chris Day, is the third person taking part through the nominations. He said: “I am absolutely honoured - and very surprised - to be lucky enough to be selected to take part in the Olympic torch relay. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so proud to have been chosen to be involved in this historic event."??

Also taking part in the relay is computer science student Will Smith, 21, from Prudhoe, who will carry the torch through Gateshead on June 16. Will, who is in his final year at Newcastle, was nominated by Badminton England. Will has played para-badminton – badminton for people with disabilities - for the past five years and has enjoyed national and international success in singles and doubles. His right leg was amputated above the knee when he was just 10 years old as a result of cancer.

??He said: “I was really surprised to be nominated in the first place and even more surprised when they said I’d been chosen. Para badminton isn’t a recognised Olympic sport yet so this means I still get to be involved which is brilliant. The Olympics aren’t likely to come to London again in my lifetime so I feel very privileged to be part of this.”

??Former Newcastle agriculture student Simon Hales will carry the torch through Stamford. Simon, 22, from Rutland, suffered a serious brain injury when he fell from a wall in 2009. He now works with the charity Headway to increase awareness of brain injuries.??

A retired member of staff is also taking part. Barbara Gorton was examinations officer in the Medical Faculty and left the University 13 years ago. She was nominated to carry the torch by one of her friends. ??

University Director of Sport Colin Blackburn said: “I wish each of the runners the very best of luck on the day and hope they enjoy every minute of their part in this historic relay.”

published on: 5 April 2012