May 21 2013 Latest news:
by Sara Odeen-Isbister , Senior Reporter
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
A medal-winning swimmer says she hopes the London Paralympic Games will change the way society views disability, as she prepares to carry the torch during today’s momentous opener.
Jenny Orpwood, who lived in Barking and Dagenham between 1961 and 1996 and won a total of 10 gold, silver and bronze medals at Paralympic Games during the 1970s and ’80s, will carry the flame through Lewisham hours before the opening ceremony in Stratford.
She spoke as a number of people prepared to carry the torch through Barking and Dagenham this evening. Its journey will start in Barking Park at 8.38pm
The 56-year-old said it was fantastic to know that many events had been sold out and venues will be packed over the next fortnight.
“There has been a scramble to get tickets to these Paralympics, which will be the most televised ever,” she told the Post. “Paralympians are now becoming household names.
“This is wonderful news and a sign that greater weight is being given to the achievements of disabled sports people. But I hope the Paralympics has an impact on society that is greater than just sport.
“I would like to see the same respect given in everyday life. Many of us may look different and do things in a different way, but we still have a valuable role to play in society.”
Jenny said she felt “really proud and honoured” to carry the torch.
As in the Olympics, Barking and Dagenham has a key role to play during the Paralympic Games.
It is one of the host boroughs to be receiving the torch in the 24-hour relay, which kicked off yesterday (Tuesday), and students from Trinity special school are performing in the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium tonight.
Neal Crowley, of Amesbury Road, Dagenham, teaches and competes in boccia, a Paralympic sport similar to bowls.
The 29-year-old said the Games would show millions of people across the world what incredible things disabled people can achieve.
“I think people will be surprised and amazed at what you can do despite having a disability,” he said. “Hopefully it will change a lot of people’s attitudes towards disability.”
Barking and Dagenham disability charity DABD said it was “very much looking forward to the Games” and added: “We hope they will help promote a more positive image of disabled people in the media as well as increasing the awareness of disability sports both in general, as well as within Barking and Dagenham.”
After leaving Barking Park, the torch will travel along Longbridge Road, then Northern Relief Road and London Road, until leaving the borough via Barking Road at around 9.02pm.