17-year-old ‘inspiration’ will carry the Olympic torch

Heather Mann
Heather Mann
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A TEENAGE charity volunteer described as “an inspiration” has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch as it travels down the east of Scotland.

Heather Mann, 17, from Juniper Green, was chosen from tens of thousands of applicants to take part in the high profile relay, which will be beamed across the world.

She was nominated by her grandmother, Jenny Robertson, who wanted her to be recognised for her volunteering abroad and work raising awareness of schizophrenia, which her birth mother, Aileen Corbett, suffers from.

Organisers wrote to her at the turn of the year, and backed up their offer with a formal invitation to take part this week.

The St George’s School for Girls sixth year – who was the youngest ever volunteer to work on an orphanage project last summer in Jamaica – will hold the torch on June 13 somewhere between St Andrews and Edinburgh.

She said: “It was my gran who nominated me, she had to write in 150 words why she thought I could do it.

“When she told me I said I’d never get it because there was something like 37,000 nominations. But I got the letter asking me to do it subject to a few checks, and now it’s going ahead. I didn’t expect it at all.”

Once back from the relay she will only have a short time at home before heading off to another foreign volunteer mission. This time it will be in South Africa and for a full year, considerably longer than the Caribbean trip, for the organisation Project Trust.

“I’m so excited about it,” she said. “I had to go through quite a tough selection process for it.

“I’m not sure what I’ll be doing, it could be working in an orphanage or at a school, it will be something to do with social care, and I won’t be able to come home during it.”

In a letter from Olympic Torch Relay organisers, she was told: “Out of tens of thousands of nominations our selection panel felt that you should have your moment to shine in front of your friends, family, the UK and the world.

“Feel great about yourself: you’re an inspirational person and we can’t wait for the world to find out why.”

Heather has previously been praised for raising awareness among her peers about schizophrenia. She held fundraising events for the cause, and retains a strong relationship with her mother despite the challenging condition.

In January, the Evening News reported how a father-of-two who has battled cancer 13 times was also selected to carry the torch.

Lawrence Stewart, 34, from Bathgate, was told by doctors seven years ago that he would be lucky to see the birth of his second child, but has fought on and was recommended by his personal trainer.