Islington schoolgirl takes Olympic torch held by grandfather in 1948 Melbourne Games

15:07 06 August 2012

Catherine West and her daughter

Catherine West and her daughter


The Olympic flame passed through the generations when a young girl held the same torch her grandfather ran with 60 years ago on the other side of the world.

Nina West, 10, daughter of Islington Council leader Cllr Catherine West, got her hands on an Olympic Torch as part of the Islington schools relay.

The iconic flame-holders that came to Ashmount School, in Ashmount School, Hornsey Rise, where Nina is a pupil, were from the 1948 Olympics in London and the 1956 Melbourne games.

As soon as her mother realised the age of the torch, she suspected that it could be the same one held by Nina’s granddad Roderick, who ran a mile with the flame in Australia before the 1956 Games.

Cllr West said: “My father was a school teacher in the small village of Wallendbeen on the border of New South Wales and Victoria.

“There are no pictures because he couldn’t afford a camera, but he stayed up all night drinking coffee, waiting for that torch to come over the hill at 3.30am. It sounds quite emotional.

“I think there were only about half a dozen torches made, so when I saw the one Nina was holding I realised it could be the very same one, which is amazing.

“Who’d have ever thought when he carried the torch all those year ago that his granddaughter would be holding it in London 60 years later?”

Roderick West, 79, who now lives in Sydney, wrote in his diary at the time: “For some minutes, we could descry the flame blazing as it was carried up hill and down dale, finally bursting into sight around a bend.

“The advance party had furnished me with a torch, which I plunged into the oncoming one, and I was quite taken aback when a sheet of golden fire shot up from my hand. The torch must have weighed a couple of pounds, for my upheld arm began to ache, and after five minutes, 10 seconds, I plunged it into the torch of the next runner – at the top of the hill.

“I was relieved of it and it was thrown into the truck. No chance of souveniring.”


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