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A unique centre for disabled and disadvantaged people will be represented in the Cumbria leg of the Olympic Torch Relay Two members of the Watchtree Wheelers Cycle Centre near Carlisle, teenagers Lauren Armstrong and Tom Braithwaite will play an active role in the build up to the 2012 Olympic Games as they have been chosen as torch bearers.
Lauren, 16 and Tom, 14 are regular users of the unique facility at Watchtree
Nature Reserve near Carlisle which provide an opportunity for disabled and
disadvantaged people to cycle in the safety of the nature reserve, using
specially designed cycles.
The Watchtree Wheelers have a strong connection with the Olympic Team
GB as multiple gold winning paralympian cyclist Aileen McGlynn officially
opened the 1.5 miles route through the reserve in 2009.
Lauren and Tom will represent Cumbria in the county’s leg of the torch
procession through the country.
Ryan Dobson; Project Officer for the Watchtree Wheelers said: “We have
many regular users here at the Centre but unfortunately we couldn’t nominate
“We selected four young individuals, all of whom have individual strengths or
personal traits that we believe make them worthy candidates – and we are
delighted Lauren and Tom were chosen to hold the flame high for Cumbria
and Watchtree Wheelers.”
Tom has Downs Syndrome, Autistic Spectrum, impaired hearing and has had
major heart surgery. As a member of the Watchtree Wheelers Cycling Centre
he visits the facility regularly to take his parents on a tour of the Watchtree
Nature Reserves cycle tracks.
Ryan added: “They used to take him but now he leads the way.
“Tom has developed from cycling with many aids and help from instructors
to riding a standard fixed wheel trike unassisted, a fantastic sporting
achievement worthy of recognition.”
Lauren, a wheelchair user also attends The Watchtree Wheelers sessions
regularly, as well as being a member of the Funky Fridays Group at Wigton
Youth Station. And it was Lauren who set up the collaboration of the two
groups for the Wigton Carnival in June last year.
The Olympic nomination was also a group effort, Sam Massey; Lead Care
Worker for the Wigton Youth Station said: “Lauren is a remarkable young lady
and I am witness to the enthusiasm and determination that she exudes. No
matter what the activity she always puts herself forward to be involved, and
as a result has challenged herself on many levels. Lauren is an inspirational
individual and her appetite for life is infectious.”
Ryan added “These young cyclists are amazing ambassadors for Watchtree
Wheelers and we wish them all the best of luck on their leg of the Olympic
torch run. ”
As well as visiting the reserve and supporting Watchtree Wheelers
members of the public can become members. For more information visit