THE body which oversees the selection of Olympic torch bearers has explained why just one St Helens person out of 11 will carry the flame through their home town.

Dave Watts MP took up the case after the matter was brought to his attention by the St Helens Star.

Following initial concerns that St Helens’ own heroes like Steve Prescott and Andy Reid had missed out, Mr Watts subsequently raised it with former Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, who sits on the Olympics board and Sarah Bartholomew, Government Relations Manager for London 2012.

She explained that once the organising committee selected the 8,000 torch bearers across the UK, they were placed within an hour of their postcode address “to ensure that their friends and family can support them and celebrate this moment with them.”

The sole St Helens representative is 23-year-old Natalie Corrigan from Thatto Heath, who was nominated for her work with hundreds of young dancers who have passed through her dance academy.

Detailing the process by which the torch bearers were selected Sarah Bartholomew added: “The nominations were selected via independent selection panels in every region, made up of the individuals that best represented their community with representatives from sport, culture, local government, volunteering and education. Every nomination was judged on an anonymous basis and scored against a set criteria.

“To be clear – the selection process was led by the quality of the nomination story, rather than geographic area.”

She told Mr Watts: “As I’m sure you can appreciate given the scale involved this is very complex and involves allocating 8,000 torch bearers to a 300m slot on an 8,000 mile route. We give each torch bearer the choice to accept their position based on this date and location.”

Our own ‘Miracle Baby’ James will be carrying the torch in Bolton!

ONE such torchbearer first featured in the Star 33-years-ago, when we raised around £2,000 to buy a ventilator to keep him alive after he was born five weeks premature.

Three decades later James Gilgannon is back in the Star after he was nominated as an Olympic torch bearer.

Proud mum Mavis, 77, from Eccleston Park said he was nominated for his charity work by his colleagues in the pharmacy department at Warrington Hospital: “For the last 12-years, he has been a marshal for the Race for Life charity event. Through the whole of the summer, he will do it going from venue to venue. He has also done the Shine night time charity walk in Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.”

However James is another person from St Helens who won’t be roared on by well-wishers in his home town.

Mrs Gilgannon, who is a mother of four, said at first he was pencilled in to carrying the torch on the Isle of Man ferry, but instead, he will take his turn in Bolton.