OLYMPIC TORCH 5.45pm: I’m so proud my Down’s Syndrome son could run

Rupert Mitchell, Olympic torchbearer, from Bexhill
Rupert Mitchell, Olympic torchbearer, from Bexhill

LITTLE Common welcomed one of the biggest events in its history and was the first community to welcome the Olymic Torch to Bexhill.

The flame arrived just after 5pm with all the panoply of a once-a-lifetime event.

Bunting and flags which were most recently waved for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee saw colourful service again and the crowds cheered almost anything that moved.

The first runner was enthusiastically applauded by spectators of all ages, who lined up three to four deep along Cooden Sea Road.

The only Bexhillian to running in Bexhill, Rupert Mitchell, 35, was given a rapturous greeting by friends and relatives wearing blue Team Roopie t-shirts.

As Rupert, escorted by his brother James, stepped forward there was special pride in the moment for his mother, Joey.

She had battled red tape to ensure that her son, who has Down’s Syndrome, could run front of his home crowd and so enjoy to the full his moment of glory.

She said, “Rupert’s place had been assigned to a girl from Shoreham-by-Sea, while Rupert was due to run in Worthing. It seems sily for them to be crossing like that, and I envenutally persuaded the organisers to think again.

“To see the sheer pleasure on his face running in the town where he grew up just made everything worthwhile.”

Joey was at the event with her solicitor husband Robert, She added, “We were thirlled to see him getting this recognition. The big grin on his face said it all. We were just so proud of him.”

Among the other runners in Bexhill was Rupert’s judo coach, Paul Everest, 47, from neighbouring St Leonards.

The torch then moved on towards the seafront via West Court Drive and Richmond Avenue, people ran from their homes to join those already craning to see the spectacle.