As the Olympic Torch Relay makes its way around the United Kingdom and across to Ireland ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, The Salvation Army is maintaining a prominent presence. The flame was lit in Olympia, Greece, before being transported to Cornwall, in south-west England, in May for a 70-day trip around the UK and Ireland. The route will take the torch to within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the UK population.
The More than Gold team based at territorial headquarters (THQ) in London is encouraging Salvation Army corps (churches) and centres to use the torch relay as a way to remind their local communities of the Army's presence while demonstrating Christian love and hospitality. One way in which corps can do this is through the use of one of The Salvation Army’s emergency vehicles, which THQ has committed to providing. The fair trade company Traidcraft is providing free tea and coffee.
Special issues of 'The War Cry' and 'Kids Alive!' have been produced – and provided at no cost – to be handed out at torch relay events as well as at other outreach opportunities during the Games. The 'Kids Alive!' special issue has proved so popular that the original print run was exhausted, leading to a reprint. A large number of both publications have already been given away to the crowds that have gathered to watch the torch relay.
Some Salvationists have been chosen to carry the torch. Ryan Wileman, Divisional Youth Officer for the Yorkshire Division, will take part in the relay on 26 June. The next day, Zoe Homes, from Boston Corps, will take the torch through Lincoln. On 6 July John Willson, of Hadleigh Temple Corps, will carry the torch. Lieut-Colonel Val Mylechreest, currently appointed to Boscombe Corps (one of the largest in the UK) has her opportunity on 13 July. Former Olympian Ian Richards, who attends Worthing Corps and is on the More than Gold Paralympic Board, will carry the torch on 16 July. Ian represented Great Britain in the 50 Kilometre Walk at the 1980 Moscow Games. Another south-coast Salvationist – David Ramsay of Winton Corps – carried the torch on 23 May. David was nominated for his work with underprivileged people in Ukraine.
For more details on the torch relay participants and route – and to watch a live-stream of the relay – go to www.london2012.com/torch-relay
The Salvation Army territorial sports ministry section goes under the name 'Sport for Good'. Updates on The Salvation Army's Olympic- and Paralympic-related work can be found on the Sport for Good Facebook and Twitter pages: www.facebook.com/SASportforGood and www.twitter.com/SportforGood