Stratford Olympic torchbearer fights rare disease

By IH Wednesday 09 January 2013 Updated: 10/01 08:42

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Buy photos » Allan Coldicott offers some advice to granddaughter Scarlett. 02.013.012.strat.nc1

ALLAN Coldicott proudly carried the Olympic Torch through Stratford last summer but his life was turned upside down just a week later.

Allan, a postman in the town for 33 years, was selected for the honour of torchbearer for being the longest serving member of Stratford Athletic Club, where he has been a regular runner for over 30 years. Super-fit, he also practised the Japanese martial art of Aikido for more than three decades.

But on July 8, a week after thousands cheered Allan on as he ran along Birmingham Road with the torch, the 56-year-old felt unwell at daughter Lyndsey's wedding.

Initially doctors suspected he just had a skin infection but three courses of antibiotics failed to cure his condition, and he ended up being rushed to hospital.

He lost his sight and finished up on an isolation ward. Sports-mad Allan had been looking forward to watching the Olympics and Paralympics - but missed both as he could see nothing.

He was eventually diagnosed with a very rare condition known as Sweet's Syndrome, an incurable auto immune disease, which affects just one in 3 million people.

Fortunately Allan regained his sight, but it is far from what it used to be.

The father-of-two is not one though to just sit back and let his condition beat him. Having been unable to see for six weeks, he quickly came to realise the importance of sight. He vowed to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind by pulling his trainers back on and completing a mile run this month.

Unfortunately Allan is not going to be ready but wife Heather suggested granddaughter Scarlett, who is not two until February, could do it in his place.

Heather said: "Last summer Allan could have gone out and run a marathon no problem at all, but not now. He is getting out and about a bit, but this is a life-changing thing. It is not curable, just manageable.

"His aim was too run a mile this month, but there's no chance of that at the moment. I said to him Scarlett would whizz along pushing her doll's pram, with Lyndsey and me for support, and that is what we decided to do."

Allan is nothing if not determined, and remains focused on soon being able to run that mile.

Scarlett's mile takes place along The Tramway on Sunday January 20.

Anyone who would like to support Scarlett's mile with a donation can do so directly through the Guide Dogs website, by visiting

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Buy photos» Allan proudly carries the Olympic Torch through Stratford last July. (s)

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