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One in three Sussex torchbearers is from outside the county
It was dubbed as a way to celebrate our community heroes – yet one in three people carrying the Olympic torch through our streets is not from Sussex.
In two weeks' time, tens of thousands of people will line the streets to welcome the fabled flame to the county on its way to the London games.
Yet between the charity fundraisers, world record holders and people who have dedicated their lives to helping others, there will be Olympic officials and representatives from multinational corporations who live abroad.
This despite organisers promising it would “enable local communities to shine a light on the best their area has to offer”.
In total, of about 150 people carrying the flame through Sussex, 57 do not live here.
It comes as a blow to the dozens of people who were unsuccessfully nominated through The Argus’ Carry The Torch campaign.
Shani Hart, of the Old Boat Corner Community Centre in Hollingbury, Brighton, nominated single mother Julie Drake, of Carden Avenue, Brighton, for her work inspiring her community.
Last night, Ms Hart said: “When Julie didn't get it I presumed whoever got it was in a better position – having sponsors carrying the torch is not what they made the torch relay out to be.”
Brighton-based swimming teacher Anne Bickmore, who nominated 13-year-old disabled girl Sophie Wells, from Eastbourne, said: “It's a pity people who deserve to carry the torch weren't given the opportunity.”
There are 21 people listed to carry the torch through Brighton and Hove on July 16 and 17. Among them is 17-year-old Zachary Narvaez who is a model pupil at Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College and raised thousands for charity.
Other torchbearers include Colin Bentley, 42, from Brighton who is a nursing assistant on an HIV ward and community figure Peter Avey, 74, who was an RNLI volunteer and runs a café in Kings Road Arches, Brighton.
Another is police officer Mark Hill, 48, of Hassocks, who received an Argus Achievement Award for going “Beyond the Call of Duty”.
And The Argus can reveal our celebrity torchbearer will be the 1980 Olympic champion iceskater Robin Cousins.
Yet eight torchbearers have no links to Sussex. Two are from France, one is from Germany, another is from Sweden and holds a senior post at Specsavers.
Gaelle Guerchet, of Malville, France – more than 500 miles away from Brighton – was nominated for being president of a sports group in Africa.
Another torchbearer Ximo Peris, 42, London, has been nominated for holding media workshops for school children.
Yet The Argus can reveal he actually cre- ated a film which was used by the London 2012 team when bidding for the games.
Of 12 people carrying it through Bognor, only one actually lives in the town while no one carrying it through Arundel, one of the county’s most historic towns, is from West Sussex.
Julia Zeen, 30, a freelance graphic designer from Brighton, was selected to carry the torch through Lancing by sponsors Coca Cola.
She is currently designing the multinational’s range of pin badges for London 2012.
A group of eight torchbearers have been nominated by French firm EDF Energy which is sponsoring the games. The firm is one of the largest companies in Sussex with offices in Hove and Worthing and field staff across the county.
Glenn Ewing, EDF Energy’s head of customer services for the region, said: “These are eight incredible individuals who have overcome adversity, or supported their local community or raised money for fantastic causes, going above and beyond in how they inspire others.
“We’re proud that they will be representing EDF, their Sussex communities, families and friends as part of the Olympic Torch Relay.”
Locog was last night not available for comment on the story.
However, on its website it said the torch relay would “enable local communities to shine a light on the best their area has to offer”.
It added: “We have done our best to make sure each torchbearer carries the flame in, or near to, their local area to help friends and family cheer them on along the way.
“8,000 inspirational people will carry the Olympic Flame as it journeys across the UK.
“Nominated by someone they know, it will be their moment to shine, inspiring millions of people watching in their community, in the UK and worldwide.”
Did you nominate someone to carry the torch who missed out? Let us know in the comments below.