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War veteran to carry Olympic Torch
A decorated Iraq war veteran will carry the Olympic Torch as it travels to the UK's centre of remembrance on Armed Forces Day.
Victoria Cross winner Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry will be one of the latest torchbearers to carry the flame as it continues its tour around the country. His part of the relay will see him with the torch in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
L/Cpl Beharry won the Victoria Cross, the military's highest award for valour, in 2004 and became the first living recipient since 1969.
The Caribbean-born hero earned the honour for saving the lives of 30 comrades by charging down an ambush and has since overcome terrible wounds to continue his military career.
He said: "Of course it will be an honour for me to take part in the Olympic Torch Relay, but it is a particular privilege to be carrying the torch at the National Memorial Arboretum on Armed Forces Day, which is all about raising awareness of and support for the Armed Forces community and highlighting the outstanding contribution it makes to this country."
Staffordshire County Councillor Pat Corfield, cabinet member for Culture and Communities, said it was marvellous L/Cpl Beharry would be carrying the flame.
"We have always been proud to fund the National Memorial Arboretum," he said. "Having recently signed our first Armed Forces Community Covenant there, confirming the County Council's support for the military, we are looking forward to celebrating this momentous and historic occasion.
"The arrival of the Torch Relay coincides with Armed Forces Day, when the nation shows its support and appreciation for the men and women who make enormous sacrifices to protect the freedoms we all enjoy. It will no doubt be a very moving experience."
L/Cpl Beharry is one of the torchbearers who will carry the Olympic Torch, which starts its journey in Derby, when it passes through Burton, The National Memorial Arboretum, Streethay, Lichfield, Hopwas, Tamworth, Great Wyrley and Newtown as the torch relay makes its second visit to the county.
After Newtown, it will pass through Bloxwich, Leamore, Birchills, Walsall, Willenhall, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Oldbury, West Bromwich, Smethwick, and finally Birmingham, where it will spend the night.