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Law enforcement agencies unite for 39th Annual Special Olympics Torch Run

Photos by Eyleen Gomez

Dozens of officers from the RGP, GDP, GFRS, HM Prison, Customs, and Borders and Coastguards took part in this year’s 39th Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympic Games held last week.

The Torch Run sees officers run around the streets of Gibraltar shaking their collection tins all in a bid to raise money for Special Olympics Gibraltar.

Escorting the runners, a police motorcycle duo and a GFRS vehicle headed the group with their sirens blaring, and vehicles from Customs, the RGP and GDP formed the tail.

This year, the run started at Bayside and Westside School where the torch was lit and passed to the first torch holder, Byron Lopez, from the GDP.

“The torch is heavier than I expected,” he said after he completed his section of the run.

“The heat, and the fumes as well, is hard.”

However, the experience was worth it, he added.

Taking the torch from him at Marina Bay was Richard Cardona from HM Prison who was taking part in a torch run for the first time.

Mr Cardona ran held the torch until the runners made their way into Casemates, where RGP Superintendent Paul Chipolina took over.

Mr Chipolina has taken part in other torch runs and has ran with the torch before too.

“The best feeling is being able to represent the charity for a particular period of time during the event,” he said.

“The worst bit is the heat, especially on a hot day like this.”

Along Main Street, they shook their cans and collected money from tourists and locals alike.

Mr Chipolina took the torch up Main Street where, along the way, Stefan Olivero from Customs took over.

It was his first time running with the torch and he said “it makes me feel quite important.”

By the end of Main Street Mikey Jeffries from Customs took over. Next up was the only female torch bearer (although other women took part), Kirsty Victory from Borders and Coastguards. She led the run from Ragged Staff to New Harbours. Last year, she took part and was the runner who handed over the torch to the Special Olympian at the stadium.

From New Harbours to Camp Bay, the torch holder was Alex Gaitley from GFRS. It was his second time taking part in a torch run. “There is such pride” in having the torch, he said.

“I haven’t run in ages but it pushed me on.”

At Camp Bay, the runners approached beachgoers asking for donations and stopped numerous cars who were entering the tunnel too. Many people were generous.

Leading the torch run through Keightley Way tunnel was Steve Peach from the RGP. It was his third year taking part.

“It’s a good feeling, there is pride in it as you’re running for a good cause as this gets handed over to the Special Olympics,” he said.

“Running with other agencies makes it a bit more special as well. It is good to be working on this in unity because we are all going to be working together at some point.”

Once through the tunnel and at the lighthouse, Donovan Correra from HM Prison took over and had the arduous task of running up Europa Road towards Lathbury Stadium with it.

It was his third time taking part in the torch run and noted that, thankfully, this year’s torch felt lighter than previous years.

“Apart from the cause that it is, there is pride in representing the agency that you work for, in my case the prison, and everyone has to be proud of where they work, especially in law enforcement,” he said.

Running into Lathbury Stadium was Justin Collado from HM Prison who said it was a “nice feeling, especially when we are all together and we push each other.”

Once the runners entered the stadium, the torch was handed over the a Special Olympian and a relay around the stadium starts while ‘Chariots of Fire’, the iconic tune of many an Olympic Games, played.

As the runners, led by a Special Olympian, made their way around the track there was loud applause from the spectators, which included the new Governor, Lieutenant General Sir Ben Bathurst, politicians, the mayor and other dignitaries.

Along the back of the track, officers from the various agencies stood by their flag and saluted the runners and, once the lap of the track was complete, the cauldron was lit marking the start of the Special Olympic Games 2024.

The law enforcement officers hope that their efforts have raised a significant figure again this year.

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