Chichester man chosen as Olympic torch bearer

Playgroup leader Ant Stewart who has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch.''C120144-1 Chi Torch Ant  Photo Louise Adams
Playgroup leader Ant Stewart who has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch.''C120144-1 Chi Torch Ant Photo Louise Adams

Sunday afternoon is his only time off but for Ant Stewart it’s worth it, as he spends all week helping bring a wealth of opportunities to children and adults with special needs.

And for helping to light up their lives in such a meaningful way, Ant has been selected as an official Olympic torch bearer for the national relay after being nominated in the scheme organised by Lloyds TSB; he will take part when the flame passes through Chichester on July 16.

Playgroup leader Ant Stewart who has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch. Here pictured with his son Ben.''C120144-1 Chi Torch Ant  Photo Louise Adams

Playgroup leader Ant Stewart who has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch. Here pictured with his son Ben.''C120144-1 Chi Torch Ant Photo Louise Adams

“It’s really exciting, and it’s an amazing opportunity to be involved in,” said Ant, who lives in the Whyke area of Chichester. “It’s representative of things I do which is working with adults and children with additional needs which is fantastic – I can’t think of anything better to represent as a torch bearer.

“The Olympics are great for the country and to be part of 8,000 people who are brilliant and inspiring others to do anything they can to get involved with their communities, that is an exciting thing.”

Ant – a former full-time primary teacher – works part-time for Kingsham and Portfield primary schools, reading stories and covering subjects such as science, maths and PE.

He is also heavily involved with the Chichester group Parents and Carers Support Organisation, which supports children who have disabilities, where his wife Ruth works. A member of Revelation Church, Ant works part-time in its office, while the couple are also foster parents, providing respite care for children with special needs as well as being on call to provide emergency foster cover. He also helps the Chichester-based international development charity Children on the Edge.

“I have been working with children for many, many years,” he said. “It’s just the excitement and enthusiasm of creating the opportunity for children to experience more of life which is my main thing. Fun would be top priority but learning and that initial excitement of new things is what I love to see in children.”

Ant did not realise he had been nominated until he received a letter and he said while it was exciting, he usually liked to get on with things without fanfare.

“I don’t tend to be in the forefront of things, I’m one of those people who does lots of work in the background and not many people know all of the things I do.

“At the moment it’s just the excitement of looking forward to it, I’m a little bit nervous about what’s going to happen – the last thing I want is for the torch flame to go out.”

Ant said he was looking forward to the Olympics getting underway and said the torch relay was wonderful.

“It’s a great expression of people shining a light for their communities.”