A TEACHER who introduced youngsters to American football, and a schoolboy who raised hundreds of pounds for a diabetes charity, will carry the Olympic torch through the North-East.

Woodham Community Technology College, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, is celebrating as one of its teachers and year ten students were asked to carry the flame when it passes through the region on June 17.

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Assistant headteacher Jon Tait, of Darlington, was nominated by his mother.

He said: “I don’t think it has sunk in yet that I will be part of one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It’s just incredible and I am over the moon.”

Mr Tait has been chosen for after introducing more than 300 youngsters to American football in the past ten years.

He took a team to the world championships in New Orleans in 2007 and has been appointed as a coach for Great Britain.

He said: “Being asked to carry the Olympic torch is a dream come true, and I am delighted to be doing this with one of my students. I think we are both still in shock.”

Richie Howe was selected for his commitment to raising funds for Diabetes UK, having swum the equivalent of the English Channel in his local swimming pool with his brother, who was diagnosed with the disease last year.

Richie, 15, of Chilton, said: “I really can’t believe it. I will always be able to say I carried it – I just hope I don’t drop it.”

Richie will be carrying the torch through Darlington after his teacher has carried it through the streets of Billingham.


A DISABLED teenager whose mother recently died of cancer has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch on a section of its journey through North Yorkshire.

George Conway, of Easingwold School, said his “chin dropped to the floor in disbelief” after discovering he would be among the ten torch-bearers in Northallerton on June 20 – and was overjoyed when told he could keep the torch.

Organisers picked the Middlesbrough fan, 14, for his inspirational attitude towards participating and helping others despite facing daily challenges from a rare muscular disease which confines him to a wheelchair.

His father, Shaun, said: “Proud doesn’t even come close to describing about how I feel. He was virtually inseparable from his mum, Rachel, and since she died George has shown a great level of maturity. With everything he goes through on a day to day basis, he still supports others. In the face of adversity he always comes out smiling.”

Mr Conway said that until he was seven George played football, but now represents his school in athletics, boccia, swimming and fishing.


A SPORTY schoolgirl who has been hailed as a role model by her teachers has been selected to carry the Olympic torch.

Samantha Gould, 12, has been chosen as one of 8,000 people nationwide to act as a torchbearer for the Olympic Games on its 70-day relay across the UK.

Wearing the official Olympic gold and white Adidas tracksuit, Samantha, who was nominated by Kieran Thompson, one of her teachers at Darlington School of Mathematics and Science (DSMS), will carry the flame on its journey through Hartlepool on June 17.

“At DSMS we believe in the core values of the Olympics, determination inspiration, respect, courage and excellence,” said Mr Thompson.

“Samantha personifies all of those traits and is a role model for sporting excellence and in her academic studies.

“For her to be chosen as a torchbearer is incredible news and adds to the momentum of positive energy here at DSMS. The whole school is immensely proud of her.”

Samantha, of Darlington, who swims, plays volleyball, football and cricket, has already been practising for her historic moment by running up and down her street.

“When I think about all of the famous people who have held the torch it doesn’t seem real that I am actually going to be a part of that Olympic history,” she said.


A CITY that appeared to have been overlooked when the torch relay route was announced has unveiled which streets it will pass through.

Politicians, sports personalities and people from across Wearside were outraged when it seemed that Sunderland would not be visited by the Olympic flame.

Evenutally, Lord Coe stepped in and confirmed the route would take in the region’s biggest city.

Yesterday, the precise route was revealed at the Sunderland Aquatic Centre.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “It is fantastic that residents can now see exactly where the flame will travel through Sunderland.

“The announcement really brings the route to life.

“It is a once in a lifetime event and I know the people of Sunderland will embrace the opportunity to see the Olympic flame and witness the spectacle of the Olympic Torch Relay.

“The excitement is really starting to build now and I’m sure people will line the streets to join in this huge celebration, and to cheer on the inspirational torchbearers who will carry the Olympic flame through Sunderland.”

The flame makes its way into the city on Saturday, June 16, first via Whitburn, before heading along the coast at Seaburn, through the aquatic centre, along Fawcett Street, onto Chester Road and eventually into the ‘Sunderland in 2012’ celebration event at Herrington Country Park, before leaving past Penshaw Monument.

People can find out exactly where the flame will be travelling by visiting the torch relay website, at This includes street-by-street details and proposed start times for when the flame will travel through Sunderland, on day 29 of its 70-day relay.