Interview with Jaffer Hussain

Jaffer Hussain is a 23 year old who lives in Blackburn. He had the immense pleasure of carrying the Olympic Torch at the end of June and was lovely enough to sit down with us and tell us all about it.

So Jaffer, how did it feel to carry the Olympic Torch?
Honestly, the feeling was amazing. The buzz, the atmosphere and the people - all of them were just perfect. I had dreamt for a long time how it would feel and the entire day surpassed any dream I ever had. The day was one of the worst days that the Torch has ever had to endure in terms of weather (that's what one of the Torch bearer stewards told me) but that didn't stop the people coming out to support and cheer me on. Looking back now, I'm still excited and get that feeling of a magical moment!

What made you want to carry the Torch?
I was nominated by one of the young people I used to work with during my time with Blackburn with Darwen Young People's Services as a youth voice worker.
His nomination story is below:

My local Hero is in a league of his own, he's been my youth worker for over a year now and I've never known anyone that can change lives like he can. I come from Blackburn and life in this town can be pretty tough but he offers a helping hand to anyone that needs it, he works and works and works to make sure that life for young people is filled with rich knowledge and a sense of direction. He has changed my life in so many ways, through him I have acquired  life skills, communication skills, leadership skills and knowledge that no other could offer me wand that's just my life he's changed. There are hundreds of people that could tell you the same. I can think of no other person more eligible to carry a torch for the Olympic Games and even then he'll be education as he goes along.

How were you selected to carry the Olympic Torch?
After being nominated, I was told that a final selection would be made. On Thursday 8th December whilst in Manchester for an interview with NCVYS (National Council for Voluntary Youth Services) I received an email saying that I had been selected to become a torch bearer! I couldn't believe that out of the millions of applications I would now be one of the few lucky Torch Bearers.

What was the process after you were selected?
Well obviously due to the high security of the Olympics, there were some stringent checks to be made which included sending of passports and other forms of ID ect, but apart from that the process was relatively straight forward.

What did it mean for you to be selected to carry the Olympic Torch in your area?
On Friday 16th March, I received the final email which confirmed everything but unfortunately I was told that I would no longer be running in Blackburn but rather Fleetwood. I soon found out that I wasn't the only one who had been moved around and in fact a lot of people were no longer running in their home town. If I am being honest, I was upset and annoyed at this as it now meant most people could no longer come out and support me in particular the young people I had worked with and had been recognised.

Take us through the running of the day itself?
So the day started as I mentioned earlier miserable, cold and wet. It didn't improve as it went on. I came in to work for the first part of the day - I work for an arts management company called Cultrapedia on one of their projects somewhereto (If you want more info on this I'll be happy to write another blog about it soon!) Then at 12 noon I went home, changed in to my uniform and went to pick up all my mates who would be travelling with me to Fleetwood. All in all 6 cars arrived from Blackburn to support me. 

When i got to Fleetwood, I entered the venue where all the Torch Bearers were told to report to. What a site it was - old, young, male and female, Asian and White - we were all torch bearers! We were then given a quick security briefing before being told to get on our bus and we headed to the first point of the torch leg for Fleetwood. 10 minutes later, I see flashing blue lights as the first police motorcycle arrives and then the convoy which followed scared me to death! It was at least 2 miles long with each of the sponsors having their own vans and shouting out encouragement. Ti my right I looked through the window and saw a huge line of people waiting - All getting incredibly wet but all of them loving the fact that the torch had finally come to Fleetwood. Our bus squeezed in between the convo and as we drove past the crowds, they all waved and cheered from the bus we continued to wave as well. 

Finally it was my turn to leave the bus and to get in to position however the bus has driven on past my stop off point so as I got off the bus, I was told I would have to walk up the street. The wind was hitting me from one side and the rain from another but it was just incredible! People were shouting and screaming as if I belonged to some boyband and the flashes from the dozens of cameras was crazy. As I started walking up the road to my collection point, people waved and cheered me on. Finally I got into position and waited but during this time people took as many opportunities of me as possible. My mum and dad came up to me and gave me a hu g and I ensured that I spent this time soaking in not only the rain but the atmosphere.

Then from the corner of my eye I saw the flame coming towards me. I shook hands with the torch bearer and our torches met with mine receiving the flame and I was off! I started a slow jog towards my next torch bearer and from the corner of my eye I saw my brothers on one side running with me and my friends  on the other. The wind and the rain got more ferocious as I continued my jog but I was just loving it! The people were encouraging me on, whooping, cheering and shouting as I ran past them. After a few minutes I saw the next Torch Bearer. I should mention now that when on our shuttle bus waiting for the convoy we were asked to think of a way of passing the torch on - nearly all the people decided that they would high 5 each other or shake hands but me and the next torch bearer decided to be a little different. So as I approached her, she swung out her arm, we joined together and did a little jig! The crowd went crazy and so did the stewards - everyone loved it!

After the flame had been passed onto the next torch bearer, I was moved over to the side of the road where all my colleagues from Cultrapedia were stood. They continued to take pictures and I could see my line manager getting a little emotional as I just smiled. Soon as I was told I needed to get onto the second shuttle bus which was picking up all the torch bearers so I said my goodbyes and thankyous and got on. My dance partner and three others were already on and as I got on I just gave them a huge smile which they returned - we all knew what the smiles meant. We didn't need to say a word!

How did you feel after it was over?
Exhausted, wet and cold but above all excited, proud and amazing. Seriously words cannot describe those feelings!

Did you celebrate after it was over?
Well, once we'd picked up all the other torch bearers we headed back to our venue where we started and everyone else had left - I wasn't surprised after they'd stayed in the cold for so long so me and my friends decided to head to Nando's to celebrate.

What is the one thing you will remember from the entire experience?
The people of Fleetwood - Live I've said on numerous occasions, the weather on that day was awful but the people were still out supporting and cheering me on! On top of that being Fleetwood is an area which is predominantly made up of White British people, however they took me on as one of their town even though I had never been there or lived there. I herd the words "You're a son of Fleetwood now, don't ever forget that!" several times and those are the words I won't forget!

Are you going to be watching the Olympics?
I've never really watched any sports apart from wrestling (Hey, that's sports entertainment so don't judge me!) but I think I will be watching parts of it due to this new experience.