Former drug addict, Tim Shiels, has spoken of his delight at being named a Future Flame and having carried the Olympic Torch through the city on Monday.
The 30 year-old was chosen to be a Coca Cola Future Flame and participate in the Olympic Torch Relay thanks to his contribution to youth work. The recovering drug addict turned his life around before resolving to help young children avoid the fate that befell him.
Tim said: “Coca Cola were looking for people with passion and who were using that passion to inspire others. I’m very happy my friends nominated me.”
Tim first became involved with drugs aged 14 and he said that until seven years ago they dominated his life.
“I’ve suffered with various degrees of addiction, at my lowest point I was homeless. All routes and avenues I took led to destruction. I was in trouble with the police all because of cocaine but I took anything I could get my hands on really.”
That all changed when the Waterside youth leader became involved in the Cornerstone Church: “In the church I found people who loved me when I couldn’t love myself.”
After participating in the Olympic Torch Relay, Tim was understandably delighted: “I can’t believe how far I have come to be doing this today. The thing I took from yesterday was the interaction with people afterward. I stood on Limavady Road for two hours having my picture taken.
“People wanted to be involved in the event and I could facilitate that. It was an honour to make the Olympics that little more accessible to people.”
Tim said: “It was emotional, very exciting and humbling being involved in something as massive as the Olympics. It was uniting a city.
“It had such a positive impact in Derry while the cameras of the world were watching.”
Ena Thompson from Strathfoyle was also a torch carrier. She said of the experience: “There are so many highlights but running with it and then passing it over was the best bit.
“Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with it. I only took the torch out to show daddy and suddenly I was surrounded by people wanting their picture taken.”
The relay run was briefly interupted by a dissident republican protest.
Runner Belle Coote was carrying the torch when she was diverted to avoid possible confrontation.
Earlier this week Mrs. Cootes said the day was still very positive and despite the protest she would be “happy to return to Derry.”