Proud to be picked for Olympic flame

19 March 2012
NCPC and Dying Matters supporter and Lymphoma Association fundraiser Ian Leech has been chosen to bear the Olympic Torch.

Ian will carry the torch on 30 June as it passes through his home town of Burton on Trent in the run-up to the 2012 games.

Ian is one of 8,000 people picked to carry the Olympic flame on its 8,000 mile route around the UK. He was chosen for his exhaustive campaigning work following the death of his daughter. Melissa was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in August 2007. She died just nine months later at the age of 20.

He spoke of his pride at being selected as full details of the route were revealed today for the first time.

Ian said: "It’s a major honour and gradually beginning to sink in as the relay gets closer. Like all the things I do, when I find out I just want to tell Melissa and say, 'Look at what we’re doing, Mel'."

Since Melissa's death, Ian has tirelessly raised funds for the Lymphoma Association. He is also campaigning to change the law regarding students who suspend their studies due to long term illnesses, such as cancer.  As a result of his work, the law was changed in 2010, but still needs further adjustment, and Ian continues to campaign to allow students forced to suspend their studies to have immediate access to financial support.

Ian also gives talks about the family's experience of end of life care to a range of professionals. Mel died at home, with Ian, Mel's mother Julie and her sister Becky at her side. It was, says Ian, a "peaceful" death. 

Sebastian Coe, chair of London 2012, said: "Today we bring the Olympic torch relay to life, with thousands of inspirational people from all over the UK being confirmed as torchbearers.

"We hope local communities come out and line the streets to cheer on the torchbearers, and celebrate the Olympic Games coming to the UK." Organisers aim to bring the flame within 10 miles of 95% of the population.

Extract from Ian's Blog: 10 May 2008

"I sit and wonder what is going through Mel’s mind. I wonder if she realises she’s as poorly as she is.

I think of the things we’ve done and also the things we’ll never do again. In the middle of the night, earlier this week we picked our Premier Picks on Facebook for the final matches of the season. If it weren’t for this horrible situation we’d be sat together watching it, or she’d be at uni with her friends watching the final games. She’d phone in the evening and relay all that had happened and when she’d told me, she’d tell Julie.

I’m sure she’s dreaming, she woke up startled yesterday and asked for reassurance that I wasn’t going anywhere. I told her none of us were going anywhere. We would be with her all the time. I haven’t left the house since Thursday. I’m scared that if I nip to the shop or something, she’ll pass away whilst I’m out.

Another bout of pain hit her this afternoon. She tried to move and I helped her to sit up to ease the pressure. She sat at right angles across the bed again and put her feet on me. I held her hand and talked to her. She keeps fighting, but this disease is getting the better of her and we know that in the next few days we’re going to lose her and life will never be as good again."


Find out more about Ian's work:  

Follow Ian on Twitter: @melsdadian

Street-by-street map of torch relay route

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