May 18 2013 Latest news:
Robin Cottle, Reporter
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Albany Park resident Ken Owen admits he never thought he would get the chance to carry the Olympic torch through Bexley and is grateful for his neighbour who nominated him.
When most of us reach our 90s we might think about slowing down. But Ken Owen is not like most people.
Mr Owen, who turned 91 earlier this year, has been rewarded for an active and full life by being given the honour of carrying the Olympic torch through Bexley.
Despite his age, the father-of-two plays badminton twice a week with an over-50s club at the Crayside Leisure Centre (where he is unsurprisingly the oldest player by quite some way) and does conservation volunteering at Joyden’s Wood once a week.
Mr Owen, of Speynton Avenue, said: “I’m getting on now. For this to happen to me aged 91 is amazing.
“I would never have put myself forward but I was nominated by my neighbour Eileen Halsey. I’m very lucky to have this opportunity and it’s an honour.”
His wife Elsie died in 2009 but he has three grandchildren who will be out supporting him – Matthew, 24, and 22-year-old twins Nick and Josh. In total Mr Owen thinks six or eight people will hit the torch route to see him have his moment of glory.
“I want to mark on the route where I’m going to be carrying it. Let’s just hope we have some nice weather.
“This is going to be a special thing to take part in, and considering my age, definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
His activity and lifestyle belies his age and he has used to his retirement to step up his volunteering on school and scouts camping trips, fundraise for Cancer Research UK and take on walking expeditions such as trekking coast-to-coast.
Despite all Mr Owen’s achievements, he counts his war service as the greatest achievement of his life. During the Second World War, he intercepted messages in the Middle East, a feat which was recognised by the Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010.
He said: “It was the proudest moment of my life, and it was great to finally get the acknowledgement to say how important we were.
“Lots of my friends have died and I think there’s only three of us left who worked in the team.”
Mr Owen is originally from Hull but moved to Sidcup aged 18. He has lived in Bexley borough ever since.