Torchbearer Marie set to feature in Saga magazine

Marie Kirby.
Marie Kirby.

A Tamnaherin woman is to feature in a popular magazine celebrating the Torchbearers who will carry the Olympic Torch throughout communities across Britain and Northern Ireland.

Marie Kirby (59), originally from Sion Mills, is one of the lucky few who will carry the Olympic Torch in Bready as it continues its journey through the North West on June 5.

As a featured Torchbearer on the 2012 Olympic website, she was approached by ‘Saga’, a nationwide fifty plus lifestyle magazine, to take part in a once in a lifetime photo shoot celebrating the Torchbearers.

Marie says: “As soon as the information on the Torchbearers and the Olympic Torch Relay went public on March 19, I received a phone call from a woman from ‘Saga’ magazine who asked if I was interested in doing a photo shoot in London. My initial reaction was, ‘Do you know where I am from?’

“However, this didn’t deter ‘Saga’ and, once they said it would be of no cost to myself, I couldn’t turn it down!”

Marie was originally nominated by her daughter, also Marie, to be an Olympic Torchbearer last summer, but never expected to be successful.

“When I was nominated, I didn’t think much of it. I never thought I would get selected, let alone become a featured Torchbearer with my nomination story up on the London 2012 website!

“I have no idea why I was chosen to be a Torchbearer. I can only think that they, perhaps, wanted people who have made a contribution to their local community.”

As part of the offer from ‘Saga’, Marie was flown on an all expenses paid trip to London at the end of March where she was treated like a celebrity with her own professional photo shoot for the magazine.

Celebrity treatment

“The fact that I was chosen to appear in Saga Magazine is just as shocking as being a Torchbearer. I can’t believe it has all happened to me. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was being treated as a celebrity for a few days!”

Marie has been working as a secretary in Mullabuoy Primary School in Lettershandoney for nearly 37 years. In her nomination, her daughter spoke of Marie’s commitment to the community and the time she dedicates to others. Outside of school, Marie is a carer in the community and volunteers in her local church as a Eucharistic minister, creating flower displays at Easter and Christmas in addition to helping clean the chapel. She also helps to fundraise for Diabetes UK.

“The photo shoot, whilst being an amazing experience, was actually quite hard work,” she says.

“I got to hold an Olympic Torch, and I was surprised by how heavy it was! For the photographs I had to actually run holding the Torch, so it was great practice for the actual event in June.

“I am in training for the Torch Run now. I am hopeful to run at least half of my distance. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to make the most it!”

Marie will be appearing in the May issue of Saga Magazine.