London 2012: Paralympic swimmer returns to Games as a torchbearer

A Paralympic medallist from Forest Gate has described her selection as a torchbearer at this year’s Games as a “dream come true.”

Jenny Orpwood, who won gold, bronze and silver in swimming at the 1972 Berlin Games, will be part of team to carry the flame from Stoke Mandeville to Stratford.

She was nominated by her sister after a lifelong fight against adversity and dedicated charity work with disabled people in Newham.

An emotional Jenny, of Winchelsea Road, said she would dedicate her torchbearing to her ill father William and to her fellow Paralympic competitors past and present.

She was chosen as one of just 100 Sainsbury’s customers through an in-store competition at Beckton.

“I was just really, really pleased because I was a Paralympian so it’s almost like a dream come true,” she said.

“When I knew the Olympics was going to be held in this country I thought I would really like to carry the flame. I didn’t say anything to anyone though.

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“It’s fantastic - it kind of completes the circle in terms of having been a competitor.”

Jenny was diagnosed with polio aged three and introduced to swimming through hydrotherapy.

Her impressive record of charity work includes setting up a refuge in Newham for women with learning disabilities with The Powerhouse charity.

She also used to help run a sports club for disabled people at the forerunner to NewVIc sixth-form college.

Jenny now gives up her time working with disabled people as an access officer, advisor, consultant and trainer focusing on equality and disability issues.

She added: “As a disabled person I have been through what other disabled people are going through and I am in a position to understand others.”

The relay will take place over 24 hours from August 28 to 29 - the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.

To celebrate the occasion, there will be a series of public events, called Flame Festivals, during the August Bank Holiday weekend, with activities and a live stage show.