Olympic torchbearer hoping to raise awareness of organ donation

A DOTING dad will be sky high after being selected to carry the Olympic torch – but he is hoping to use the “incredible privilege” to raise awareness of an issue close to his heart.

Matt Fletcher, who is head of sixth form at the Helena Romanes School, will carry the torch in Southend-on-Sea on July 6.

He was nominated by the fundraisers at Always Hope, a fund for children with renal failure he and his wife Beth set up after their twin daughter, Hope, was born with kidney dyspraxia.

“It is an incredible privilege and the whole family is coming to see me. I am never going to be a torch bearer again and the Olympics will probably never come to this country again in my lifetime.

“This is a fantastic opportunity although I don’t know what to expect,” he told the Broadcast.

The Fletchers set up the fund after seeing Hope go through three years of dialysis while she waited for a kidney donor to come forward.

Mr Fletcher is eager to use his time in the spotlight to stress the importance of organ donation.

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“It is a real issue that people don’t like to talk about but it would be great if more people would sign up to the donor register.

“What we really want is for the Government to have a donation system like others in Europe where people opt out rather than opt in,” he said.

“Hope finally got a kidney from Beth’s dad when she was three-years-old but this was after 18 months on the waiting list – even though she was a high priority patient.

“The donor kidney is now failing so she needs another one, so I am going to donate because otherwise she could be waiting for years.

“There are risks involved with the surgery because we are different blood types but Hope’s life is more important.

“The surgery is imminent but we don’t know when it will be.”

The High Easter resident will now have a worldwide audience to hear his message when he carries the torch.

Before then, the Fletchers are hosting a charity bike ride. The 25-mile ride, on June 10, will start at 10am from High Easter village hall. There is a �10 registration fee which will go to Always Hope. For more information e-mail fletchers4@btinternet.com