When Eastbourne is not Easebourne!

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A TEENAGE torch bearer is having to travel 45 miles to take part in the Olympic relay after bungling officials gave him a leg in Easebourne rather than Eastbourne.

Max Harffey was chosen ahead of tens of thousands of other hopefuls to take part after organisers were impressed with his determined recovery from major heart surgery.

The sports-mad 18-year-old was told he would never be able to play football competitively again, with a host of other activities ruled out at the same time.

But, instead of letting it get him down, he took up refereeing and now officiates at dozens of junior football games a season.

He is studying PE at Sussex Downs College and hopes to eventually work in the field of sports science.

However, while organisers of the Olympic torch relay obviously paid attention to the reasons he was nominated, they seem to have spent a little less time reading WHERE he wanted to run.

Max now faces a 90-mile round trip to Easebourne near Arundel and, while still obviously being delighted to be taking part, he is understandably disappointed that it means many of his friends will not be there to cheer him on.

Speaking this week the teenager said, “It is great to be one of the people who will get to carry the torch so I can’t complain too much but it does seem silly to be doing it in Easebourne.

“There are meant to be rules that carriers will be allocated slots within 20 miles of their hometown but the organisers say I cannot have my leg changed now.

“I rang them up but they said they could not rearrange it despite the fact I was having to go so far.

“A lot of my friends won’t be able to watch, which is a shame, but it will still be a great experience.”

Max is also hoping to use the run to make some money for the Evelina Children’s Hospital where he received much of his treatment over the years.

He had a second heart operation in February and is well on the way to recovering – just in time for his run.

His proud dad, Alan Harffey, said, “He is a testament to the staff of both the Eastbourne and Evelina hospitals and it will be marvellous for them to see their handiwork when he carries the Olympic torch.

“The only disappointing aspect though is that he is running in Arundel and not his hometown of Eastbourne where more of his friends and family could turn out to support.

“It would have been nice to represent his local community but he will still have his moment to shine.”

Max will carry the flame on July 16.