Labour MP Bill Esterson and Blundellsands' Cllr Veronica Bennett

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson and Blundellsands Ward Labour Councillor Veronica Bennett with Olympic torchbearer Lorraine Sass.

A Crosby charity worker and former Merseyside Woman of the Year  winner helped to get the Olympics on track, thanks to the help of Labour MP Bill Esterson and Blundellsands Ward Labour Councillor Veronica Bennett.

Lorraine Sass carried the Olympic torch on one of the final legs in London last week.

She was scheduled to carry the torch when the flame came to the North West but administrative errors meant her involvement was left in doubt.

But Lorraine, who was the 2006 winner of the Merseyside Woman of the Year Award for major contributions to sport and charity in the region, turned to Bill Esterson and Cllr Bennett for help.

The Labour MP and Blundellsands Councillor went directly to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games to help get the charity worker reinstated. 

Lorraine was finally given the chance to carry the flame in London in the Royal borough of Kingston upon Thames. Joining her on the relay was famous Olympian James Cracknel and tennis star Borris Becker.

Speaking back at home in Blundellsands after the event, the actress, who has appeared in TV programmes including Coronation Street, said carrying the torch had been one of the highlights of her life.

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson and Blundellsands Ward Labour Councillor Veronica Bennett with David Campbell and partner and Olympic torchbearer Lorraine Sass.Lorraine said: "It really was a total honour to represent Crosby,  Liverpool and Merseyside in London. Carrying the Olympic Torch meant being part of history.

"It was an unbelievable day and all the people who came down to London with me said it had been one of their best days ever too.

"I was so thrilled that my 35 years work with various charities had been recognised in this way." 

Lorraine, who is a key volunteer with When You Wish Upon A Star charity which grants wishes for terminally I'll children, said even after her leg of the torch relay was over, the day continued to get even more special.

She said: "Afterwards we had a celebration lunch  at the Ritz hotel.  But the Ritz being the Ritz, it is very formal with a strict 'no training shoes, no photographs' rule. However when I walked in carrying the Olympic torch, the pianist started playing the theme tune from Chariots of Fire. 
"People having afternoon tea in the famous Palm Court suddenly left their seats and in a very British fashion formed an orderly queue to have their pictures taken with me and the torch.

"By the end, I was having my photograph taken with the entire staff of the Ritz. 
"It really was a day I will never forget.

"Just being a part of the Olympics is something very special. And it is all thanks to Bill Esterson and Veronica Bennett that I was able to see my dream come true." 

Lorraine's partner, former professional footballer David Campbell, who represented Northern Ireland in the 1986 World Cup, playing against the likes of Socrates and Zico, said: "Lorraine was certainly the most enthusiastic torchbearer and it was brilliant to watch, with crowds as far as the eye could see.

"The atmosphere was amazing. The crowds that lined the route really cheered Lorraine on. I am very proud of her."

Bill Esterson said he was delighted that Lorraine had been able to carry the flame.

Bill said: "The whole point of the Olympic torch relay was to recognise people who had made a contribution to their community. Lorraine has most certainly done that.

"That's why she was nominated and why she was originally selected.

"But after negotiating levels of bureaucracy, we finally managed to secure Lorraine's place and I am delighted she was able to take part in this historic event."

Blundellsands Ward Labour Councillor Veronica Bennett, who is also the MP's caseworker, said: "It's heartening to work on a case that genuinely brought some happiness both to the constituent and also to the wider community.

"In particular I think it was fantastic that Lorraine was able to run in London, showing off the best of Crosby and Blundellsands in the capital.

"We can't win on every case, so I was thrilled that we were able to secure success when it meant so much to Lorraine." 

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