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South Wirral teenager to carry Paralympic torch
8:00pm Friday 24th August 2012 in News
A WIRRAL teenager will fly the flag for the borough when he carries the Paralympic flame tomorrow.
Alex Ratnaike, from Little Neston, was picked to be a part of the Paralympic torch relay after being nominated by children’s hospice Claire House.
The 19-year-old, who suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and cortical blindness, will carry the flame - which will be in a small lantern - through Ellesmere Port with the help of his younger brother Oscar.
And his mum, Debi, said the family were “overwhelmed” when they found out Alex would play a part in the London games.
She said: “It was honour just for Alex to be nominated by Claire House but when they told us he had been chosen to carry the flame, we couldn’t believe it – there were tears from all of us.
“Because Alex can’t physically hold the lamp, Oscar will walk alongside his wheelchair carrying it while his dad pushes him so it’s a real family affair. Although he can’t communicate with us verbally, we know he is very excited about it all and can’t wait to get there.”
Ellesmere Port is one of only 36 destinations around the country that will host the Paralympic Flame.
Four different flames were lit on Wednesday at the highest peaks in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and they will come together in Stoke Mandeville, the spiritual home of the Paralympic Games, on Tuesday, August 28.
And Debi is hoping the Paralympics, which begin on Wednesday, will go some way to get rid of prejudice towards disabled people.
She added: “The Paralympics are definitely close to our hearts and it would be great if they could educate young people that disability is nothing be frowned upon or laughed at.
“Alex is a fantastic young man with a great personality and the Games will showcase some of the best sporting men and women who just happen to have a disability.
“I think people are sometimes scared of talking about it but ther just needs to be more information out there.”
Claire House will also be backing its patron, Paralympic cyclist Rik Waddon, during the Games.
Rik, who suffers from cerebral palsy, will be competing in the Velodrome next week and hopes to repeat the success he achieved in Beijing, where he won Silver.
Lesa Chappell, head of care at Claire House Children’s Hospice, said; “Alex and the two other flame bearers are going to part of history and we’re so delighted that Claire House is going to play a small part in the Paralympic Games.
“The team and I are looking forward to cheering on both the flame bearers and our patron Rik. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that Rik will bring in a medal to show off at the hospice in a few weeks’ time.”
The Paralympic Flame procession takes places on Saturday, August 25. The flame will begin its journey at Sainsbury’s in Cheshire Oaks at 10.30am, ending at the EPIC Leisure Centre in Ellesmere Port town centre at around 12.30pm.