Alan Mak (Peterhouse 2002)
It was a great honour to find out in March 2012 that I'd been chosen as an Olympic Torchbearer for the London 2012 Games. I was also thrilled to learn that I'd be carrying the Torch on 20 June in the village of Bedale in Yorkshire, a few miles from my hometown of York. I am really looking forward to carrying the Torch in front of so many friends and neighbours that I grew up with from local communities that I've known since I was young. That will make the experience extra special.
The London 2012 Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I will be very proud to carry the Torch on behalf of Magic Breakfast, the UK's leading school breakfast club charity, who nominated me. My nomination was supported by Samsung, the sponsor of the Olympic Torch Relay who were searching for a "Local Hero who goes the extra mile" for their community. In my case, my work for charity had caught their eye. I'm President and Trustee of Magic Breakfast, and we provide free, healthy breakfast to 6,000 British primary school children every morning in over 210 schools. Having a good breakfast helps improves children's school attendance, concentration in class, and exam results, and encourages them to lead healthier lives. As the first person in my family to attend university, I know how important having a good breakfast is, and I wouldn't have got to Cambridge without overcoming challenges like hunger myself.
Cambridge gave me more than just a transformative education, three enjoyable years and a great degree. It also instilled a strong sense of social responsibility and encouraged me to get involved with charities and good causes in the community. As Magic Breakfast's President much of my work is focused on raising awareness of the issue of child hunger and poverty with politicians, the media, businesses and the wider public, which I really enjoy. I've also done a lot of fundraising. For example, I ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon raising £2,500 for the charity and I also personally sponsor the Magic Breakfast club at the local primary school in London where he is a governor, feeding 25 hungry children every morning. Last year, Magic Breakfast won the Prime Minister's Big Society Award for outstanding charities in 2011, and carrying the Olympic Torch will be a great way to round off an excellent twelve months for us.
Cambridge's contribution to the Olympics has been a great inspiration in the run up to the Torch Relay. Other than playing College-level hockey, my only sporting highlight at Cambridge was leading the Light Blues in the 2005 Croquet Varsity Match, sadly losing against Oxford! So it was fantastic to meet some real life Olympians past and present at the Cambridge Sporting Celebration Dinner in May 2012, hearing their stories of gruelling training regimes and personal bests, and listening to inspiring speeches from the Vice-Chancellor, and Olympic gold-medallist Chris Holmes MBE. Since being selected, I've also met Lord Coe, London2012 Chairman (and former Olympic gold-medallist and Conservative MP), members of the Great Britain Hockey Team, and 2012 Cambridge Olympians such as rower George Nash and top Games officials like Sue Hunt, Director of Strategic Programmes. I will certainly be thinking of them and Cambridge as I carry the Torch.
When I tell people about carrying the Torch, the question I'm most asked is "What will be going through your head as you run with the Torch?" "Not dropping it " is the obvious answer. "Protecting it from gusts of wind so it doesn't blow out" also comes to mind. But most importantly, I will be thinking of the children, parents and teachers we work with at Magic Breakfast, who are a great inspiration to me in our fight child hunger and poverty.
Alan Mak (Peterhouse 2002) is a member of the University's Alumni Advisory Board and Chairman and Founder of Cambridge10, the network for alumni of the last 10 years.
To find out more about Magic Breakfast, visit MagicBreakfast.com