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'My husband ran Olympic Torch relay in 1948'
Buy this photo » Verna Hills with the 1948 torch
As the Olympic flame arrives in Craven this weekend, an Embsay woman has revealed how her late husband carried the torch in the lead-up to a London Olympics held more than 60 years ago.
Running enthusiast Norman Hills was 32 years old when he ran a torch relay before London’s 1948 Olympics and his widow, 91-year-old Verna Hills, of Embsay, was brimming with pride when asked to recall details of that day.
“I was so proud of him and I thought he deserved it,” said Mrs Hills.
“He was quite proud to be picked, but he wasn’t a man who showed it.”
Mr Hills was a member of the High Wycombe Phoenix Harriers when he ran a leg of the torch relay on a road leading to Slough, which was in Buckinghamshire at the time.
“He was a long distance runner and was a county champion for Buckinghamshire,” said Mrs Hills, who pointed out that her husband was chosen because of his running ability.
“Each county had to pick their best runners to carry the torch.”
She said that circumstances surrounding the torch relay were much different in 1948.
“There was not all the publicity that there is now,” said Mrs Hills, who also noted that the country was suffering from post-war financial problems and rationing.
“It was totally different then,” she said.
“The Olympic Games provided a bit of relief for people after the war.
“Norman actually went to watch nearly all the events at Wembley because he knew some of the runners taking part.”
And although the torch that Mr Hills carried had been kept in a box for many years, it was eventually taken out and displayed in the Hills’ household.
“It’s a proper icebreaker when you have visitors to the house,” said Mrs Hills.
And although she believes the torch could be valued between £3,000 and £4,000, she said she could never part with it.
“I’d never sell it and when I’m gone I don’t think my family would either.”