THE community of Ruskington is continuing to rally around Olympic torchbearer Ayesha Copeland in celebration of her achievements.
Ayesha, 19, was one of 8,000 people selected to carry the Olympic Flame on its passage around the country, and was supported by a coachload of villagers when she took her place in the relay in Kings Lynn.
She said: “Running with the Torch was so surreal, but really, really amazing.
“I felt so honoured to be nominated to run with the Torch and so grateful to those who nominated me.”
The expression of community spirit ran to raising funds for Ayesha to buy the torch she carried which, after a commercial sponsor stepped in, is now being used instead to extend the community outreach work she does as a volunteer in the village youth centre.
The Torch will also be placed on permanent display there, thanks to the generosity of village butchers Ward Meats, who are paying for a display case.
District councillors Terry Boston and Richard Wright were behind the rallying cry.
Almost 20 pupils from the Winchelsea Primary School, where Ayesha was a pupil, joined the party of 54 villagers on the coach loaned by Phillips Coaches, driven by Coun Boston.
“Both Richard and I and so many other people dug into their own pockets because Ayesha is an inspiration. She’s a young woman who deserves and receives such a lot of support and goodwill,” said Coun Boston, who is also NKDC’s vice-chairman.
Ayesha was nominated as a Torchbearer for having overcome her dyslexia, disabilities and her phobia of being around people when she put herself forward for the Youth Opportunity Panel for North Kesteven and Lincoln City.
This was a funding panel that read and discussed grant applications from various youth organisations and young people to improve themselves and organisations. A quarter of a million pounds has been granted to groups and individuals.
She is a volunteer at her local youth centre and children centres where she has supported children and young people with special needs, and was runner-up for last year’s NK Youth Community Champion Award.