Get set: Olympic warm-up begins

A Dereham charity worker who has devoted her time to good causes has been nominated to carry the Olympic torch.

Michelle Pyman, a former head girl at Dereham's Northgate High School, missed out in the first round of tickets for the 2012 games but could now get the chance to play a part in the historic event.

Her name was put forward by her brother-in-law Robert Ward after Lloyds TSB asked people to nominate the person who they believed most deserved to carry the Olympic flame as it tours the UK.

Ms Pyman, who was in London when the Olympic bid was won, studied for her PhD in psycho-social science at UEA and has spent the last three years working for different charities.

Last year saw her compete in the Great North Run to raise money for Christian charity Mercy Ministries and this year will see her attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

'It would be awesome to be able to carry the flame,' she said. 'When I was in Stratford I saw the excitement growing as all the building work took shape and I really wanted to be a part of London 2012.

'I missed out on tickets so I was delighted to have been nominated to carry the torch. I found out about this almost immediately after missing out on the tickets, so it was great news.

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'I'll re-apply for tickets as well though - I would love to get along to see some of the swimming or the tennis.'

Ms Pyman, now living in West Yorkshire, left London to do a year's voluntary work with the Abundant Life Church but enjoyed herself so much that she decided to stay in the area.

'I was only going to stay for a year, but once I started the voluntary work, I couldn't leave. Running the Great North Run was great, although a lot tougher than I expected.

'I'm excited about Kilimanjaro and have been doing some of the big peaks in the UK to train such as Snowdon. I've had a minor setback with a back injury, but hopefully I should be fine by October,' she added.

Olympic excitement is also growing in Swaffham, with the town's first warm-up event set to take place in July.

The Iceni Partnership has organised an afternoon of family fun at the community centre to celebrate the end of the school year and unveil Swaffham's unique Olympic rings tower, which is based on a classic children's toy.

Projects development officer, Kate Francis, said: 'The Olympic tower was thought up to provide an attractive visual, especially for young children, to demonstrate the timing of London 2012. It consists of a 5ft pole on a large wooden base, which the children in the play group will put one Olympic ring over each day, from our build-up event until the opening ceremony next July. As the tower grows, we get nearer to London 2012.

'We already have plans to make an attractive Olympic display out of the rings during the games themselves – writing on the names of team GB medal winners, for example. We will also be using the tower as a game at our event.'

There will also be races, displays and refreshments at the event, being held from 2pm on July 23.

Iceni and the Advance Swaffham Action Group (ASAG) also hope to arrange an Olympic-themed carnival next year.

To nominate yourself or someone else to be a London 2012 Olympic torchbearer, visit www.lloydstsb.com/carrytheflame. Nominations close on September 12.

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