Suffolk: Mums call for inspirational pals to get chance to carry Olympic torch

IPSWICH/HOLBROOK: Could these inspirational youngsters who have triumphed over adversity be among the 2012 special individuals chosen as Olympic torchbearers next year?

That is the hope of proud mums Helen Driver, of Beverley Road, Ipswich, and Elaine Reid, of Denmark Gardens in Holbrook, who have seen their sons overcome a debilitating illness which saw both boys excluded from the sports they loved.

Jack Driver, ten, and Alex Reid, 15, met each other at Ipswich Hospital after being diagnosed with aplastic anaemia within just a few weeks of each other.

They formed a close brother-like bond as they went to the hospital for frequent blood and platelet transfusions – sometimes up to four times a week – and even visited one another when they each had bone marrow transplants in Bristol in February and August of last year.

But with both youngsters now back at school – at Sidegate Primary School and Holbrook High School respectively – and both able to take part in the PE lessons they love once again, they are being nominated to be torchbearers when the famous flame passes through Ipswich next year.

Helen, 33, said: “They missed out on a lot of school, and we couldn’t take them outside a lot of the time because they were so prone to infection.

“They had to stop a lot of their sports, but now that they can start to get back into it, it would be perfect for them to be torchbearers.

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“When someone told me they were looking for nominations to carry the Olympic torch, I thought it would be something that the boys would deserve after all they have been through.”

Aplastic anaemia is a serious condition affecting the blood, where the bone marrow and stem cells do not produce enough blood cells.

The disease can cause bruising, make children tire very easily and become very prone to infections, meaning Jack and Alex could not take part in physical sports in case they were injured, and after having central lines put in to make transfusions easier, the pair were also forbidden from swimming in case the line became infected.

Elaine added: “The biggest frustration for the boys was that they lost all ability to do any sport – not because they didn’t feel like doing it but because medically, they weren’t allowed.

“There’s nothing worse than feeling that you’re okay, but not being allowed to do anything sporty and having to sit and watch your friends instead. They just wanted to be kicking a football or bouncing on a trampoline.”

To nominate Jack and Alex, go to by Wednesday, June 29.

n Do you know someone who deserves to be a torchbearer? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or

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