AN ELATED Gerald Gresham Cooke danced with delight as he achieved “one of the most proud moments of my life,” as he carried the Olympic torch through Tillington.
Hundreds of residents turned out to support the 70 year-old villager, who has been hailed as a community star for his work as a blood donor, driving a minibus for elderly shoppers and voluntary Bible teaching in primary schools.
He said: “It is so lovely the torch is here in Tillington and I feel very proud to have this opportunity,I just couldn’t be happier.”
“I thank all the Tillington people who have supported me. There has been amazing interest and I think the principles of the Olympics - peace, unity and friendship have shown up in the support that I am receiving.
“This has been like winning the marathon at the Olympic games,” said the keen sports fan, of Upperton Road. He revealed he still enjoys weekly training with the Fittleworth Flyers running club – who were out in force to wave banners in support of him.
Gerald added he was especially glad that family including his wife Angela and daughter Olivia were there to support him. Angela said: “This is very exciting for us to be here to celebrate the torch relay. Gerald had been nominated by one of his neighbours and he gave a great shout of joy when he found out he had been chosen. It was as if he’d won the pools! Gerald is always getting himself into some extraordinary things including running two marathons.”
Equally proud of her father, Olivia added: “It’s a great day for us here and a reward for all my dad’s hard work that he has put into the community. This is even more special for us being here with me expecting a grandchild for Gerald this week.”