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Joy as Evan steps up to take flame
A delighted mum has praised her eight-year-old son after he played a huge part in bringing part of the Paralympic Flame to Yorkshire.
Lynda Whitton said Evan, who has cerebral palsy, was “fantastic” after collecting a miner’s lamp containing a splinter of the flame in Trafalgar Square, London, and bringing it back to his home county.
She said she was very proud of her son, who managed to walk on stage to collect the flame from former Paralympian Chris Holmes, while a host of big names including Prime Minister David Cameron, London Mayor Boris Johnson and the chairman of London 2012, Lord Sebastian Coe, looked on.
The schoolboy from Silsden has been in a wheelchair for most of his life but underwent a life-changing operation in the US in 2011 – enabling him to walk to school for the first time in May.
However, despite his nerves, Evan proudly picked up a splinter of the flame and travelled by train to York for a heroes’ welcome ahead of the Paralympic Games, which are expected to be the biggest in history.
After their trip on Friday, Mrs Whitton said Evan and the rest of the family were tired but very happy.
“It’s been phenomenal,” she said.
“It’s been a whirlwind couple of days and we will need to sit back and remind ourselves of it later.”
Mrs Whitton said Evan had been excited about the ceremony, but had to fight off some last-minute nerves before climbing up on stage for the event, which also signalled the lighting of a ceremonial cauldron and a torch relay.
“He’s been looking forward to it, but when it got closer he was nervous,” she said. “We were being called up one at a time, and Evan was supposed to be the first one up. However, he did go up third.
“He was fantastic and managed to walk up and get the flame.”
The flame collected by Evan is part of the National Paralympic Flame and in York he presented it to representatives from Sheffield, York, Leeds, Huddersfield and Beverley, where it went on show at events ahead of the Games, which started yesterday and run until Sunday, September 9.
Evan, who met Mr Cameron, Mr Johnson and Lord Coe, said the event was “amazing” and “walking in London was a really big achievement for me and it was so exciting to go to Trafalgar Square”.
Mrs Whitton said she planned to enjoy a glass of champagne with husband Andrew to celebrate their son’s achievement.