Blind pensioner to carry Olympic flame

Shirley Waller, with five-year-old guide dog Alfie.
Shirley Waller, with five-year-old guide dog Alfie.
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CARRYING the Olympic torch and representing Market Deeping will be “exciting” for a blind voluntary worker and her guide dog next summer.

Shirley Waller (78) and five-year-old Labrador Alfie have been selected from tens of thousands of nominees to walk a 300 yard stretch along Church Street as part of the Olympic torch relay.

The grandmother of 18 and great-grandmother of five was nominated to take part in the event, which will pass through the town on July 4, by members of the South Lincolnshire Blind Society.

Shirley said: “I am not a lady who sits around and does nothing. Being blind should not be the end of your life and it’s opened doors for me.

“I do all sorts of voluntary work and fundraising. I am so excited that I am representing Market Deeping and all of the various groups I belong to.”

Shirley, who lives in Meadway, says her friends confessed they had put her forward after they had sent off the application.

“They told the organising committee that I was always doing things,” she said. “I help with various fundraising events, and I go and sit and collect money in the perishing cold.

“They said I was a person who did not feel sorry for myself like a lot of blind people do. They say one door closes and another definitely opened for me.”

Shirley became partially sighted after suffering from measles at the age of six but her sight began to deteriorate further when she reached her 50s.

She says she then woke up one morning and found herself completely blind – something which she had been told would happen eventually.

She said: “I never looked back. That day I got in touch with the Blind Society and they put me in touch with Guide Dogs. I got my first dog in 1992 and have had Alfie for two years.”

Shirley, who says gymnastics and athletics are her favourite Olympic sports, hopes her friends and family will line the torch route to cheer her along on the day.

She says the Olympics organising committee will be providing something special for her to wear on the day but further details have yet to be revealed.

Shirley says the times will be confirmed closer to the time.

She added: “This is going to be really something and we will remember it for the rest of our lives. I was only 15 when the Olympics came to the UK last and I was not all that interested before but now I am.”

l Have you also been selected as an Olympic torchbearer or do you know someone from our area who has? Contact reporter Sharon Pell on 01775 765412 or email sharon.pell@jpress.co.uk with the details.