Charity founder from Ilford playing top secret role in Paralympics torch relay
PUBLISHED: 15:31 20 August 2012
A children's polio charity founder will be one of eight Paralympic torchbearers representing England in the upcoming relay.
Arun Patel, who contracted polio himself as a child, will be carrying the Torch past a top secret location in central London on Friday.
The 59-year-old from Empress Avenue, Ilford, has raised more than £1million for the Polio Children charity which has helped thousands of children throughout the world.
Mr Patel said: “I’m ecstatic. I never expected it, especially since I’m carrying the national flame now. To be part of the Paralympic movement in this way – I did not expect it in my wildest dreams.”
He will be carry one of four national flames representing Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England which will be combined to create the Paralympic flame.
“I feel deeply honoured and humbled, I cannot believe it, they must be out of their senses to select me,” he said. Mr Patel was a keen sportsman until the polio spread to his second leg a decade ago.
“It means that someone who actually cares about disability is recognised and that my organisation is recognised,” he added.
“It goes to the core of what it means to be disabled because we want to compete on equal terms and show our strength.”
The father-of-two set up the charity, which supports children in India and Africa with polio, about 10 years ago.
This year they will send their 140th child to university on a scholarship programme.
Although he normally walks with a crutch he is likely to use a wheelchair during his section of the relay.
He said: “I think having polio has spurred me on to do things I would not have done otherwise like the charity work.
“I’ve not given it much notice to it as I feel you have to get on with life and people don’t want to hear about your problems.”