Jim's Olympic Torch Day!

RAP Director, Jim Mooney, was delighted to be one of the people selected to be an Olympic Torch Bearer during it's tour throughout the UK. Jim was nominated as a Torch Bearer for his 22 year commitment to assisting disadvantaged young people in Romania and also his support to older people in his local area. Jim regularly helps out with home decoration, gardening and general household assistance. An astonishing 160,000 nominations were considered and after scrutiny the Torch Relay Committee identified the 8,000 Torch Bearers to carry the Olympic Flame throughout the UK.

Local store owners Colin and Peter Barbour heard that Jim had been selected to run with the Olympic Torch and offered to provide Jim with a pair of excellent running shoes.

On Thursday 21 June 2012, Jim's big day arrived in Dumfries. With another 9 Torch Bearers, it all began with a briefing at 6.15am at the main sports centre. After a full check of their kit, including a Stella McCartney designed Olympic Tracksuit and allocation of an individual Olympic Torch, everyone was carried by coach to their allocated section of the town. Jim had Leg Number 9, a 450 metre stretch of Annan Road, Dumfries.

At 8.24am, exactly on schedule, the Olympic Flame arrived and Rosie Ryan, local schoolgirl and athlete, linked her Olympic Torch with 'the Kiss' to Jim's and transferred the flame which had made it's way from Olympia in Greece.

Jim surprised everyone by running most of the way, being told to slow down and enjoy the experience by the security team ! Jim ensured that everyone, particularly the young children on the route had a good view of the Olympic Torch.

Jim handed on the Olympic Flame to his colleague on Leg No. 10 and cheered him on as the Olympic Flame was carried on to the outskirts of Dumfries.

A quick return to the sports centre, more photographs and then the remainder of the day was take up with even more photographs, friends and family all having the chance to hold the Olympic Torch and see at close quarters the Barber & Osgerby designed aluminium and alloy fashioned torch, perforated with 8,000 circles, each representing the Torch Bearers.

Jim said " I had no idea that I had been nominated to be a Torch Bearer, I was so surprised and absolutely delighted to be selected. I was so pleased that I was allocated a stretch of Dumfries where I have so many friends and family.

"The build up to the event was exciting and on the day, it as such a fantastic experience. Joining the other Torch Bearers, meeting them and hearing of all their efforts and support for their different communities, highlighted the fabulous voluntary work that is being done in our communities, often in a quiet and unpretentious way. When we were allocated our own individual Olympic Torch, we knew that it was all for real and we were ready to go! Everyone was scared of dropping the torch, tripping and falling, what if the flame went out ! All these questions were asked and the easy answers from the event supervisors gave us all great confidence that everything would go well.

"Once we were on the coach, ready to go to our start points, nerves appeared again but everyone was moving so quickly and efficiently, we really didn't have time to worry. It was fantastic to see the crowds of people lining the pavements, all cheering and waving flags and banners.

"The flame was passed to me by Rosie Ryan, a local schoolgirl and then off I went! I had such a great time, waving to everyone and holding the Olympic Torch high. It weighs almost a full kilogramme and we had been advised to carry it mid-way for best balance.

"My time with the Olympic Flame passed so quickly and my hand-over went without any trouble. "We were picked up by another coach and taken back to the sports centre where there were more photographs and a chance to meet different people.

"My family had organised different events throughout the day and it was amazing how many people were so keen to see and touch the Olympic Torch and have their photograph taken with it. At a local restaurant, we met a family who were visiting the town from Australia and they all had their photos taken! Even the restaurant waiting staff and kitchen staff all wanted a photograph."

RAP leader in Wales, Catherine Yeoh travelled 6 hours from her home in Wales to see Jim carry the Olympic Torch! "I would not have missed this day for anything. Jim is just the nicest, kindest, most generous man. He has a 'can do' attitude to life and will always help if he can. He always has a smile or a joke too and when you need it a hug. I am so privileged and blessed to know him as a friend and to be with him, his family and all our RAP friends and supporters in Dumfries for his amazing day".

Fellow RAP Director, Ian McLatchie was delighted that Jim had the recognition for his long term commitments and support for vulnerable people. Ian said " No better or more deserving person could have been selected to carry the Olympic Flame, Jim Mooney has made it his lifetime's work to help vulnerable and disadvantaged people. It as great to see Jim carry the Olympic Flame and be so well supported on his run."

John Glover, RAP Chairman said - "Jim Mooney's contribution to RAP and to the children is unique, truly inspiring, and representative of the kind of support and commitment that many individuals in our area have given to the children and young people of Romania over the years. Jim's humanity, humour and dedication to all that RAP stands for is humbling and it is a great privilege to have witnessed his special role in the Olympic Torch Relay"

About his day, Jim said " I had an unbelievable time. I have the Olympic Torch and have a small programme already, where I will be visiting local Primary and Nursery Schools showing the young children the Torch and chatting to them about the Olympic Torch Relay and encouraging them in the future to provide a little help to their communities. After I have been round the schools, I may put the Torch up for Auction and hopefully raise some money which will go to The RAP Foundation to help continue it's support to young people in Romania "

Jim has continued with his work and has been to several Nursery and Primary Schools, showing the Olympic Torch to the youngsters and discussing with them the benefits of good citizenship and raising awareness about his support to children and young people with disabilities in Romania.

What a great day for Jim Mooney, The RAP Foundation is delighted to have Jim's support. Watch Jim's Olympic Torch run on www.bbc.co.uk