Hundreds expected to turn out to view Olympic Torch

Chris Pinnell, of Westhill, will carry the torch through Aberdeen.
Chris Pinnell, of Westhill, will carry the torch through Aberdeen.

Hundreds of people are expected to converge on Deeside and Donside on Monday (June 11) to witness the historic sight of the Olympic Torch passing through local towns and villages.

The iconic flame will be carried through nine Aberdeenshire communities, including Crathie, Ballater, Dinnet, Aboyne, Kincardine O’Neil, Banchory, Drumoak, Stonehaven and Marykirk, on Monday and Tuesday, June 11 and 12.

A number of local people have been nominated to carry the torch, including Banchory trampoline coach John Wills.

John, who will carry the Torch for around 300m through Crathie, said: “We’ve watched the plane coming in with the Torch from Greece and saw Ben Ainslie carry it on its first leg.

“We were also very excited watching Chris Bonnington on top of Snowdon with the Torch. I think it’s important for celebrities to carry the Torch as that captures people’s interest in it.

“I have mounting excitement now as it’s coming closer and closer. It is a tremendous honour and I’m very excited about it. There’s quite a lot of people coming up to Crathie to see it.

“I was nominated by Banchory Trampoline Club but ultimately, it is for the community as there are so many other groups I am involved with.” John, 65, an Aberdeenshire Council trampoline development officer, was nominated by wife Melanie, also a coach at Banchory Trampoline Club.

John has been involved in trampolining since 1961, started coaching in 1966 and has also been involved in disabilities trampolining for 12 years. Banchory Trampoline Club is thought to be the second biggest club in Scotland.

John has already visited Hill of Banchory School to talk to the pupils there about the Olympics and the Torch and has been asked to return after the event with his Torch to show to pupils.

“I’ve bought my torch,” said John, who is also an Elder at the East Church in Banchory. “It cost £199 and £39 for the stand for it. We thought about it and we decided it was a wonderful thing to have so I will not be putting it on eBay!

“Once I have done my stint, they have to decommission my torch by removing the gas canister.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. Earlier on, I didn’t realise the importance of it but now, I do. My family will want to have the torch in the house and it will be passed down through the family.”

John, who will wear – and keep - a special Olympic Torch Relay white and gold uniform designed by Adidas, is keen to allow as many people to see the Torch as possible after the relay, and hopes to take it around to local groups and schools who are interested in seeing it.

The relay is shining a light on the UK’s unsung heroes and torchbearers are carrying the flame through urban areas to places of outstanding natural beauty including more than 1,000 cities, towns and villages in the UK.

Lit in Greece, the Olympic Flame travelled by air and arrived in the UK on May 18, before setting out the on a 70-day Olympic Torch Relay, bringing the excitement of the Games to everyone. The Olympic Flame stands for peace, unity and friendship - three values that match those of the Scout Movement.

Dedicated youth worker Chris Pinnell, of Westhill, has been nominated by his work colleagues to carry the Olympic Torch in Aberdeen on Monday (June 11), after inspiring more than 4,500 Scouts and leaders over the last 35 years.

Chris, a project manager for engineering and design consultancy Atkins, has been inspiring and developing young people in the Scout Association since joining as a Cub himself back in 1963. He continued through Scouts and Venture Scouts, before becoming a leader at international Scout Jamborees in Canada and Sweden. His accolades include the Queen’s Scout Award and the Medal of Merit and he has contributed to working groups and reviews of Scouting and its future development.

As the official engineering and design services provider for the London 2012 Games, Atkins was given the opportunity to nominate two colleagues who had outstanding ‘personal best’ stories, to carry the Olympic Flame during the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. Chris was selected for his achievements in Scouting.

Chris said: “It is a great honour to be chosen by my colleagues, and I suppose I represent the many adults who are involved in providing great Scouting programmes. I work with about 30 volunteers annually, supporting them in their leader training, after which they will help develop a further 700 young people.

“This role involves me in inspiring and developing new volunteers, parents and local young people who have joined the worldwide Scouting movement, and I hope to highlight the fun and benefits of volunteering, and the support and training that Scouting offers for young people.

“The links between Scouting and Olympics are clear, with hard work to ‘do your best’, to be involved in international meetings, and to aspire to achieve a goal. “Carrying the flame as a Leader would add to the inspiration, as we spread the word of the opportunities we offer in Scouting and in the Olympics.

“With Atkins’ involvement in the engineering side of the London 2012 Games, it is a fitting honour to be picked for what is undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Volunteering is a huge part of who I am and having this recognised is rather exciting. I hope that I am able to inspire others to get involved with their local community - the satisfaction you get, in addition to the great people you meet and help along the way, is priceless.”

Chris is one of nine Scouts in Scotland taking part in the Olympic Torch relay.

UK Chief Scout Bear Grylls said: “I’m super proud that so many Scout volunteers have been rewarded for the adventures they offer young people with this once in a lifetime Olympic opportunity. The Olympics is all about unity and friendship, two things that Scouting has close to its heart.”

Chris will be carrying the torch at around 7.40pm on Monday (June 11) on Great Western Road, near Ashley Grove, to Holburn Street in Aberdeen.

Other local torchbearers include 15-year-old Ciara Mulligan, of Westhill and Hamish Swanson, 14, and Tilly Swanson, 17, both of Culter, who will all carry the Torch through Aberdeen; and Izzy Tolometti, 12, of Alford, who will carry it through Ballater.

Aberdeen athlete Yasmin Milne, 17, a pupil at Robert Gordon’s College, will carry the Torch on the Banchory Section of the route on Monday. She was nominated, secretly, by her dad, David Watt, for the willpower, natural ability, enthusiasm, and an unshakeable belief which drove her through endless hours of training, diet, and all manner of competitive events to become a Scottish Sprint Hurdle Champion and sustain it.

Mr Watt said: “Yasmin’s natural athletic talent and determination were revealed during swimming lessons at age four. She mastered all four strokes and successfully competed in many galas eventually making the Aberdeen regional team. “Yasmin was introduced to track athletics during school sports. Sprint hurdles eventually won her total focus and since the age of 10 Yasmin has surpassed all expectations.”

Yasmin said: “It was a complete surprise to learn dad had put me forward for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I am ecstatic and really looking forward to June 11! The hardest part has been keeping the news to myself in the recent months prior to official announcements.”

The programme for the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, which can be viewed at www.london2012.com/olympictorchrelay gives street-by-street details and proposed start times for when the Olympic Torch will travel through Aberdeenshire.