Message in a baton

INSPIRATIONAL youngsters from Ipswich Children's Hospice will be spurring on Britain's Olympians when they compete in Athens.Messages from the children are being hand delivered to the athletes in Greece in a special Olympic baton, which contains good luck wishes from hospices throughout the British Isles.

INSPIRATIONAL youngsters from Ipswich Children's Hospice will be spurring on Britain's Olympians when they compete in Athens.

Messages from the children are being hand delivered to the athletes in Greece in a special Olympic baton, which contains good luck wishes from hospices throughout the British Isles.

The relay baton is due to set off today from the hospice, in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, in the final leg of its 3,500mile journey between 33 British hospices.

Mike Davis, the grandfather of four-year-old hospice visitor William Davis from Bury St Edmunds, will carry the baton in his restored 1931 Austin Seven saloon to Little Haven Children's Hospice near Southend.

Former British athlete David Bedford will then carry the baton by motorcycle the remaining 2,400 miles to the Olympic team in Athens.

William's mother, Paula Davis, said the family was excited about being involved in the baton relay.

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"The hospice has done so much for us, it's nice to give something back," she said.

"William has a wild time when he goes there. He just loves it.

"It has made a huge difference to us. What they do is fantastic."

William, who suffers a condition called tuberous sclerosis, which has seen him develop multiple brain tumours and suffer life-threatening epilepsy, is just one of more than 60 children who have been helped by Ipswich Children's Hospice in the past year.

East Anglia's Children's Hospices head of care Tracy Rennie said: "The children at all three of our hospices in East Anglia are very excited to know that their messages will be read by the British team and will help spur on the athletes to gold in Greece.

"Our children may not have a chance to compete in an Olympic Games themselves, but being involved in this small way is a big thrill and will give them and their families special memory of being part of Athens 2004."

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