Olympic torch reignites Chichester woman’s memories

Mr Walter Humphreys holding the 1948 Olympic torch
Mr Walter Humphreys holding the 1948 Olympic torch

FOLLOWING the sight of the Olympic torch through the Chichester area, memories have been re-ignited for a Chichester woman, whose grandfather carried the flame 64 years ago.

Walter Humphreys, who moved to Chichester in 1956, proudly took part in the 1948 Olympic torch relay when he was 27 years old.

Mr Humphreys, a keen sportsman and captain of Oxted Athletics Club in Surrey, took up the flame for a two-and-a-quarter- mile stretch in Westerham Road in Kent.

Mr Humphreys was nominated due to his efforts as Captain for his athletics club and began the relay at 6am on Thursday, July 29, 1948.

Cassie Bailey, Mr Humphreys’s granddaughter, was left the aluminium torch when her grandfather died in 2005.

“The Olympic torch always stood pride of place in my grandparents’ home.

“It always made my grandad and my family extremely proud of the privilege he had to be a bearer of the Olympic torch.

“I was always very close to my grandad and he was an active, well-travelled and kind gentleman who was patriotic and loved nothing more than his family, sports and his country – he was a symbol of what the Olympic games are all about, togetherness and fun,” said Cassie.

Mr Humphreys was so dedicated to the prestigious honour of carrying the torch that he trained using a flat iron, running down country lanes to prepare himself for carrying the aluminium torch on the day of the relay.

Jill Bailey, Mr Humphreys’ daughter, said: “I was very proud of my dad, and he loved athletics and he would have loved to have seen it come back to Great Britain after 64 years.

“He would have loved to have seen it.

“I will be watching it because I will not be seeing it again in my lifetime, I am looking forward to it and it will remind me of my dad.”

The torch now sits in Cassie’s study, on display in the hand-made wooden stand that Walter’s father made for him.

Cassie added: “I now have the great honour of inheriting the torch and it stands pride of place in my home. I am very excited to watch the 2012 torch arrive in Chichester on Monday, July 16, and look forward to watching the games itself and supporting Team GB just as my grandad did in 1948.”