Olympic torchbearers from Sandwell

We are proud to have inspirational residents from all six Sandwell towns who carried the Olympic Torch for London 2012.

Olympic torchbearer Lisa Higgins

Lisa Higgins

Lives in Rowley Regis

Carried the torch in Worcester on 25 May

Lisa's story: Mum-of-three Lisa is a rhythmic gymnastics coach, who coaches people aged three to 22 all over the country, including London 2012 hopeful Frankie Jones.

Most of her coaching is done on a voluntary basis.

Lisa followed in her late mum Margaret Higgins' footsteps - Margaret was an Olympic judge in rhythmic gymnasts for the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Lisa, who grew up in Halesowen, said she was very pleased to be part of the Olympics and bringing London 2012 out of the capital around the country, representing Sandwell and the Black Country.

Dave Heeley with his Olympic Torch outside Sandwell College, West BromwichDave Heeley

Lives in West Bromwich

Carried the torch in Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, on 31 May

Dave's story: 'Blind Dave', who was born and lives in West Bromwich, became the first blind person to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days in 2008.

And last year he completed a John O'Groats to Land's End running and cycling challenge for Macmillan Cancer Relief - 1,000 miles in 10 days.

He has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities including Guide Dogs and Macmillan Cancer Support.

On 23 June this year, a team of cyclists headed by Dave will be cycling from Wales to The Public in West Bromwich to raise money for local charity Changing Our Lives.

In March 2012, he became Sandwell's 11th freeman of the borough in a ceremony at Sandwell Council House, Oldbury.

Dave, who is 54, said it was a great privilege and honour to be part of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.

Find out what Dave had to say about his experience.

Graham Howell with his Olympic torchGraham Howell

Lives in Rowley Regis

Carried the torch in Bolton on 31 May

Graham's story: Graham completed his first marathon when he was 21.

Since then he has done numerous marathons, including the Snowdonia  marathon at the end of October 2011.

Over the years he has raised several thousands of pounds for charities.

These include two charities close to his heart - Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the Stroke Association.

Graham, aged 52, is currently training to be a personal training instructor.

He said he fully enjoyed his "brilliant moment to shine".

Ron Nicholls with the Olympic TorchRon Nicholls

Lives on Yew Tree estate

Carried the torch in Willenhall on 30 June

Ron's story: Family man Ron Nicholls, who lives on Yew Tree estate, has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity with his marathon runs.

He has mainly run in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer after his wife Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. Fundraising has included £5,000 in the 1998 London Marathon and £1,500 in the 1999 New York Marathon.

A runner with Bloxwich-based Sneyd Striders for over 20 years, he has also raised money for the breast clinic at Sandwell Hospital.

Ron, who has two daughters and three grandchildren, said: "Jane nominated me to carry the Olympic Torch and I was over the moon to have been selected. I am a patriotic man and feel proud and honoured to have this opportunity."

Jane said: "I knew Ron would love to carry the Torch."

Olympic torchbearer Ravendar BangarRavendar Kumar Bangar

Lives in Willenhall

Carried the torch in Willenhall on 30 June

Ravendar's story: Ravendar, who is 36, works for Walsall College developing the skills of youngsters and adults from across the Black Country.

He helps students from various backgrounds and abilities gain recognised qualifications in Numeracy, Literacy, IT, Business Administration and Customer Services, encouraging them to realise their potential.

At the age of 12, Ravendar undertook a school project on the Olympics, and has been inspired by the ethos, ideals and spirit of the Olympiad.

As a keen runner, he has raised money taking part in charity runs.

Ravendar said: "I was thrilled to play a small part in such a momentous historical event and felt honored to be selected as a torchbearer."


Lewis Leone

Lives in Rowley Regis

Carried the torch in Wolverhampton on 30 June

Lewis' story: At 12 years old, Lewis is one of the youngest torchbearers nationwide.

He was nominated by his school, Perryfields High School, Oldbury, through London 2012's Get Set education scheme.

Perryfields associate headteacher Chris Lee said: "Lewis is a lovely young man who has overcome difficulties.

"He's always smiling, works hard, doesn't let things get him down and is a fantastic supportive friend to students."

Lewis said he was proud to represent his whole school on 30 June.

Olympic torchbearer Dennis SandersDennis Sanders

Lives in Great Barr

Carried the torch in Dudley on 30 June

Dennis' story: Dennis, who is 75, has released doves at charity events around the country for over half a century and even presented the Queen with two doves for her Golden Jubilee in 2002.

Dennis, who goes under the name of Pax Liberations, said: "I keep and release doves because they are symbol of peace."

Dennis' hope was for a peaceful Olympic Games with all nations coming together as one to celebrate sport and international co-operation.

"I chose the name Pax Liberations many years ago because pax is the Latin for peace."

Dennis said carrying the torch at the Black Country Museum helped put Sandwell and Great Barr on the map.

Jessica Gripton with the Olympic TorchJessica Gripton

Lives in Cradley Heath

Carried the torch in West Bromwich on 30 June

Jessica's story: Jessica's main contribution has been in sport, where she has been junior organiser of Old Hill Tennis Club for over 30 years. She has spent hours encouraging young people to play and, now 81, she is still organising matches.

She played a key role in the campaign to rebuild the club's clubhouse after it burnt down. She has also been heavily involved at Halesowen Swimming Club and Haden Hill Swimming Club.

Jessica also served as a magistrate for many years and among her other community work has helped people with English as a second language to improve their English.

Grandson Richard Lloyd said: "What makes her extra special and deserving of the honour is that she cannot swim and has never hit a ball! Her effort is for others' benefit."

Juanita Williams with the Olympic TorchJuanita Williams

Lives in Oldbury

Carried the torch in Cape Hill on 30 June

Juanita's story: Juanita has raised £26,872 for Macmillan Cancer Support through her cycling fundraising challenges since her dad Bob Mansell died from cancer in November 2005.

Bob ran a cycling shop in Smethwick High Street for many years.

Juanita said: "It was wonderful to be chosen to run in the area where I grew up and where my dad was such a big community figure.

"He taught thousands of young Smethwick people to cycle."

Juanita met Cliff Richard on the torchbearer bus - and even sneaked a kiss with the pop legend.

Jodie StimpsonJodie Stimpson

Lives in Oldbury

Carried the torch in Birmingham on 30 June

Jodie's story: Jodie started swimming for Oldbury Swimming Club when she was just four years old.

She was first introduced to the sport of triathlon when she was eight, winning her first triathlon in Appleby near the Lake District when she was nine.

Jodie epitomised the hard work, commitment and long-term vision needed to succeed in sport and is an excellent role model.

Jodie, who has trained regularly at Langley Swimming Centre, inspires and encourages other triathletes of all levels to believe in themselves and to keep the dream alive.

Olympic torchbearer Beth BroadheadBeth Broadhead

Lives in Great Barr

Carried the torch in Birmingham on 1 July

Beth's story: Beth, who is 16 years old, does volunteer work for a school sports partnership.

She was nominated by a teacher at her school, Great Barr Secondary.

A footballer with Tamworth Ladies and Sutton United, Beth said she enjoyed running her 300m Torch section in Birmingham.

She said representing both Sandwell and Birmingham for the Olympic Torch Relay.

Karl Hinett with the Olympic TorchKarl Hinett

Lives in Tipton

Carried the torch in Solihull on 1 July

Twenty-five-year-old Karl was badly burned when his tank was petrol bombed in Iraq.

He underwent five years of gruelling skin grafts and operations in the burns unit ay Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

To give something back to those who saved his life, the remarkable former soldier has raised money for the unit, including running marathons across the world.

Ryan Cockbill with the Olympic TorchRyan Cockbill

Lives in Great Barr

Carried the torch in Birmingham on 1 July

Ryan's story: Inspirational Ryan competed in the London 2012 Paralympics in rifle shooting and took part in the Paralympics opening ceremony.

After an accident in July 2006 left him a quadriplegic, Ryan began to learn the skill of rifle target shooting - a skill which has already seen him equal a European and world record in the sport.