Sidford 90-year-old’s Olympic torch hope

Pensioner nominated for London 2012 honour 64-years after he was a torchbearer when Games fever last gripped Britain.

GREAT granddad Gerry Crocker still carries a torch for holding the Olympic flame-and wants to do it again at the age of 90.

The Sidford pensioner has been nominated for the London 2012 honour 64-years after he was a torchbearer when Games fever last gripped Britain.

And the World War Two veteran says he’ll need a zimmer frame this time round.

“I could manage it but I wouldn’t be very fast,” he told the Herald.

“A zimmer frame would make all the difference- I don’t know whether they would allow that.”

Gerry, of Castle Hill View, was a spritely 27-year-old and keen track and cross country runner when he carried the flame in August 1948 before the Olympic Games were last staged in London.

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He still has the torch he held aloft for 15-minutes on a relay between Alphington, Exeter, and Hembury House in Peamore.

“I remember it reasonably well,” said Gerry.

“I was really chuffed because, when we finished, people were coming up and asking for my autograph.”

A Chief Petty Officer in the navy at the time, Gerry was invited to run on behalf of the Royal Navy Royal Marines Athletics Club Plymouth Command.

The great granddad of one was unknowingly put forward to take part in next year’s 70-day torch relay by both his wife Viv, 80, and daughter, Jill, and only found out when they received e-mails saying he’d been entered into a ballot.

Gerry will find out if he’s made a shortlist next month.

“I don’t think I’m going to get it somehow,” said Gerry, who survived when the HMS Spartan, the Royal Navy vessel he was serving on in 1944, was sunk off Anzio.

“I’ll be keen to watch the procession and see the next lot have a go,” he added.

Wife Viv said she’d put Gerry forward as a ‘joke’.

“I’d have to go and hold him up if he was selected,” she said.

Ironically, a Sidmouth autograph hunter wrote to Gerry in September 1948, when he was based at barracks in Plymouth, asking for his signature. It was the last the writer needed to complete their collection.

Gerry will be among a trio of hardy 90-year-olds who will today walk for 90 minutes along Sidmouth’s Esplanade to mark the Royal British Legion’s 90th anniversary.