Honour of carrying the Paralympic torch

Denise Barnett with friend Michelle Ward
Denise Barnett with friend Michelle Ward

A woman who has spent decades fundraising for the Royal British Legion and championing disabled sports got the chance to carry the Paralympic torch through London.

Denise Barnett, 53, of Brentford, Wellingborough, carried the flame through Barnet in London at 5.45am on Wednesday morning.

Of the 12,000 people nominated to carry the flame, she was one of only 580 who were selected for the honour.

Miss Barnett was chosen in recognition of the 40 years she has spent carrying out voluntary work for the Wellingborough branch of the Royal British Legion and the 25 years she spent helping to run the Waendel Warriors sports club for disabled people.

She was pushed in her wheelchair by friend Michelle Ward, from Wellingborough, who volunteers for the town’s homeless charity the Daylight Centre.

Miss Barnett said she had been looking forward to her big day, and was excited to be involved in the build-up to the sporting event which follows on from the huge success of the Olympic Games.

She said: “I started selling poppies for the British Legion when I was 15 and I have done it every year since, even when I was in hospital.

“The Waendel Warriors ran for about 25 years and we built up a very big club.

“We had some national champions and we always won a trophy at every competition we went to.

“Our members were aged between eight and 80 and it provided a lot of people with the opportunity to take part in sports, which gave them a new lease of life.”

Miss Barnett also runs a friendship group which meets at St Mark’s Church, Queensway, in the town.

A keen sportsman herself – Miss Barnett, is a former amateur national discuss, shot put and table tennis champion – and she knows only too well the huge effort and dedication put in to their sports by the Paralympic athletes.

She said: “It’s so much more effort for people with disabilities, but they are dedicated.”