London Olympics dream for Clipstone teacher

Clipstone Deputy Head Teacher Neil Harris who has received a nomination to run with the Olympic Torch
Clipstone Deputy Head Teacher Neil Harris who has received a nomination to run with the Olympic Torch

CLIPSTONE’S Neil Harris is used to spending his life giving for a good cause but the teacher has now been handed the opportunity of a lifetime - a nomination to run with the Olympic Torch.

Neil (34) has raised more than £25,000 in the last three years through his charity, the Emily Harris Foundation – which the 35-year-old set up with wife Clare after they lost their five-month old baby to a heart condition in 2007.

Working with King’s Mill Hospital neo natal unit, the charity organises fundraising events to subsidise staff training and provide welcome packs and financial assistance for parents at the unit.

Now Mansfield residents are being encouraged to nominate the person they believe most deserves to carry the Olympic Flame as it tours the UK and Neil said he was delighted to be one of the first to be picked out.

“I found out a couple of week ago and it’s all very exciting,” said Mr Harris, who was nominated by his friend Wendy Culliner.

“I hope I’m selected, it’d be a real honour to be involved in such an amazing event.

“I see the charity as a chance to give something back for all the help we had, and it’s great to be able to help.

“We’ve had some outstanding fundraising events recently with marathon running and concerts, it’s not something you expect to be recognised for – so it’s nice to be nominated.”

As well as his charity work, Mr Harris works as a teacher at Forest Town’s St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, but will take over the deputy headteacher role at St Mary’s School in Rotherham in September.

Add to that to the time he spends brining up his own family, daughter Megan is three and Amy only one, and you would be forgiven for thinking he’d struggle to find time to carry the Olympic flame.

“No chance, if they offered me the chance to do that it’d be a pleasure,” added Neil.

“I do have a busy lifestyle and it’s very rewarding, but this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’d do everything possible to be involved.”