Newry duo help launch Paralympic Flame
With just one week to go before the official opening of the 2012 Paralympic Games, a small group of disabled and able-bodied scouts and mountaineers this week ascended Slieve Donard, the highest peak of the Mourne Mountains, to start a process which will create the official 2012 Paralympics Flame.
The climbing group included Bernie Sloan, from Warrenpoint and Pat Shields from Newry who are part of a team of fifteen blind and partially sighted people training to climb Ben Nevis. Both were nominated by the Royal National Institute of Blind People Northern Ireland.
Using the traditional technique of rubbing flint together to create sparks and kindle a flame and demonstrating the power of human endeavour and teamwork, the climbers created a light which was carefully preserved in a miner’s lamp and carried down the mountainside to Donard Park, where there was a rapturous public welcome hosted by Down District Council.
At the same time similar flames were lit on the summits of the highest points in Scotland, England and Wales and the four will ultimately be united to create the 2012 Paralympic Flame.
In the beautiful natural setting of Donard Park cheering crowds, all eager to be part of something truly memorable, greeted the climbers amidst an illuminating mix of free family entertainment.
Down District Council Chairperson Mickey Coogan, welcomed the flame and congratulated the scouts and mountaineers on a job well done, saying, “We are delighted that Slieve Donard has been centre stage on this momentous day and that so many people, locals and visitors alike, have turned out to show their enthusiasm and support for the inspirational individuals who’ll be competing in the 2012 Paralympic Games.”
He added, “This is the start of something truly special and we are all united in wishing the talented and hugely determined athletes who will compete in the 2012 Paralympics a truly great Games.”
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