Paralympic flame visits Hackney

The Paralympic Torch Relay made not just one, but two stops in Hackney last Wednesday night before moving onto the Olympic Stadium for the spectacular Opening Ceremony.

And five torchbearers from the borough who had been asked to carry the flame 30 miles away in Hertfordshire were over the moon when LOCOG [the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games] relented at the last minute to let them carry out honour on home turf.

Wheelchair-bound badminton player Sharon Barnes lives in Wenlock Street, Shoreditch, but had refused to make what would have been a painful journey for her.

“We are supposed to be doing this for the community and this is my community,” said 48-year old Sharon, who lost her leg because of diabetes complications, and took up badminton in 2008 after recovering from a stroke.

The Torch first visited Hackney Town Hall, where a crowd of over 800 people had gathered to welcome the torch bearers.

Although it was running an hour and a half behind schedule, the crowds were kept entertained with performances by local choir, the Hoxton Singers, and carnival dance troupe, Tropical Isles.

Then it made its way to London Fields Lido where a second welcome event was held, with Speaker of Hackney Jessica Webb acting as compere.