Chiswick Olympic Torch Bearer Snubbed
Ben Cooper not invited to event in Ealing after he carries torch
A Chiswick man who was chosen to carry the Olympic torch next month has said he is “very disappointed” not to be invited to the local celebrations later that evening.
Ben Cooper (51), who was selected for his voluntary work helping to develop Youth and Junior Sailing in the UK, will be carrying the flame on July 24th as the torch comes from Richmond towards Hounslow – the closest point to Chiswick will be Kew Bridge.
A number of community events have been planned to mark the historic procession through the borough, in Brentford, Hounslow Town Centre and Lampton Park. In the afternoon the torch relay will be taken by motor vehicle to Surrey before proceeding to Hillington and an evening celebration at Ealing.
But Ben says that to date he has not been invited to any celebratory event that evening by Ealing Council and he feels aggrieved not to be able to join in the celebrations.
The only Olympic event he has been invited to was in Leeds last weekend. This was unconnected with Ealing Council.
“I find it strange that I was invited to an event in Leeds which was being held on June 24th when I haven’t even run yet. Why am I not invited to the local party on the day I actually carry the torch?”
About 100 people will be torch-bearers on that date, but Mr. Cooper said he had no idea if anybody else was being invited.
“As far as I know I am the only person taking part in the relay from Chiswick”.
He added that he felt snubbed by the organisers.
"I think it's a bit odd and a bit unreasonable on their part".
The torch is expected to arrive at Hounslow at 11.30 a.m. and Ben’s turn at the torch relay will starting anytime after it enters the Borough at Kew Bridge heading in the direction of Brentford High Street.
Hounslow Council said that even though Ben was taking part in the relay in the Borough, the party was a matter for Ealing Council.
Ealing Council have said the evening celebrations in Walpole Park are being organised by LOCOG, the London Organising Committee of the Olympics.
A spokeswoman explained: “The event is organised by LOCOG in conjunction with the police who decide on the venue’s capacity in terms of numbers. The Council was required to allocate 1600 tickets to LOCOG who decide how to allocate them”.
The two torch-bearers chosen to represent Ealing will attend the evening event, as well as around forty other local people who were originally nominated to be torch-bearers for Ealing because of their contribution to the community or their special personal stories.
Ben Cooper lives in the Hounslow Borough part of Chiswick, not in the Ealing borough part of W4.
Ealing Council allocated 8,000 free tickets online and by phone to anyone who wished to attend the event and celebrate the day no matter where they lived. These tickets were so popular that there were none left within five hours of going online.
ChiswickW4.com has contacted LOCOG about the matter and is awaiting a response.
Ben Cooper is married to Deborah, who nominated him to be a torch-bearer. The couple have lived in Chiswick for several years with their two children. Their son Oliver is also an aspiring Olympic sailor and is in the last year of the youth programme, having already won a European Championship in 2009.
A map of the route through the borough is available at www.hounslow.gov.uk/torchrelay.
June 26, 2012