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The Olympian courage shown by a Cumbrian teenager in overcoming a series of personal tragedies has been rewarded with a key role in the build-up to the world’s biggest sporting spectacle. Seventeen-year-old James Boothroyd has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch when it makes its way through Cumbria on its journey around the British Isles in June.
He’ll be running with the flame through Aspatria on June 21 as one of 8,000 people in the UK to be selected as an official torchbearer.
James, who lives near Dalston and is a pupil at Carlisle’s Richard Rose Central Academy, was nominated for the honour by Cumbria County Council’s Children’s Services.
His name was put forward as he has spent much of his young life caring for others and has had to cope with enormous heartache.
James was a carer to his mother until his mother died and he and his brothers moved away with their father.
The father also died following complications related to heart surgery when James was just 11.
James then acted as a carer for his elderly and infirm grandmother and has moved into foster care following her death.
Despite this succession of tragic setbacks James has remained heavily involved in youth activities, such as his school council, and carries out volunteer work in his local community.
And if that wasn’t enough, he even gained more qualifications in Year 11 than any other student in his school’s history – nine GCSEs and nine BTECs.
"Even though I’d been nominated I never actually thought I’d be chosen to carry the torch so to be selected is a real honour,” said James.
"The Olympics is the biggest event in the world and I’m just so excited that I’ll be part of it when the flame comes through Cumbria.
"To get to run with the torch is going to be a fantastic experience and I really can’t wait.”
Councillor Anne Burns, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for children’s social care, said: "James really is an inspirational young man who has overcome a tremendous amount of heartbreak yet has remained so positive and concerned for the wellbeing of others.
"I can’t think of anyone who deserves the honour of carrying the Olympic torch more than James – he’s a fantastic role model not just for young people but for all of us