Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Fundraiser to carry Olympic torch

A Cranbrook entrepreneur has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch through Hastings this summer in recognition of his fundraising efforts for Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance.

Film director Tom Smith, 24, embarked on two initiatives to raise more than £4,000 for the life-saving helicopter which airlifted his father following a near-fatal fire accident.

He launched a Blue Book of discount vouchers at the height of the recession after persuading 57 local businesses to sign up to the scheme, with proceeds from the sale of every book going to the charity.

He also made a documentary about Cranbrook Football Club’s battle to attract a record number of fans for the biggest match in the town’s sporting history.

As a result he landed a job with broadcast hire company Video Europe and has now been successfully nominated by his brother Sam to carry the Olympic torch through Lloyds TSB’s nationwide search for inspirational people.

Tom will be one of 8,000 people to carry the London 2012 torch but insists he owes it to the pilot, doctor and paramedic who helped keep his father alive.

He said: “If people didn’t raise money for the Air Ambulance, then they wouldn’t be able to save lives.

Making the documentary was the best thing I’ve ever done but also the hardest.

“We were taking a team that had never won anything in 100 years to a cup final and we got 1,000 people paying to watch the game. I’ve always wanted to be a film director and now I’m living my dream.

“It was a real shock to find out I’d been selected to carry the torch and I didn’t have a clue about it at all but it’s going to be a great occasion and I can’t wait to do it.

“It’s quite ironic that my dad was involved in a fire and now I will be carrying the Olympic Flame through the town whose team we played in the final.”

The Mighty Cranbrook Town charted the team’s battle to win promotion from the East Sussex League in their match against Hastings side Travaux FC.

It was produced by ex-professional footballer Tom in aid of the Air Ambulance after his film producer father was involved in a bonfire accident in June, 2009.

Stephen Smith had been lighting a fire with petrol at the family home in Cranbrook when he suffered 20 per cent burns to his back and legs. He was airlifted to the specialist Broomfield Burns Unit in Essex and has since made a full recovery.

As well as carrying the Olympic torch on July 18th, Tom will be filming a poignant piece called Lemonade about a fictional music festival in Kent with state-of-the-art Red Epic cameras.
Film director Peter Jackson used similar equipment, costing about £2million to hire, to film The Hobbit but Video Europe agreed to lend Tom the cameras as a reward for his fundraising efforts.

Tom added: “Off the back of the documentary they have seen my talent and allowed me to go and use their best cameras.

“Without the documentary there is no way Video Europe would let me do this. Now there is no reason why this film shouldn’t make millions.”

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