« Back

Carrying the Olympic Flame for The Brittle Bone Society

Catherine talks to Sally Gunnell
Catherine Potterton (Wolfson 2008)

I am going to carry the Olympic Flame.  Just eight words, but they feel momentous. Every time that I tell someone that I will be part of the Olympic Torch relay, I feel a little taller. This is a big thing when you are 4 feet 10 inches.  The most important thing to me, though, is that I was granted this honour by the University of Cambridge itself.

When I was 19, I did something rather rash. Well, I did several things which were rather rash, but the one we are focusing on is this; I became a Trustee of The Brittle Bone Society (BBS). The Society exists to support people with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI, Brittle Bones) – a genetic condition which affects the body’s collagen, and causes, among other things, bone fragility and deformity. I have OI, and was supported by the BBS during my early years. As the youngest Trustee by at least 25 years, I was made responsible for Youth. Over my terms in office, I consulted with the young people of the society, and determined that they felt that they were not supported during their transition into adulthood.

To rectify this, I created an annual youth weekend event called VOICE, now in its third year. VOICE is designed to encourage those aged 16-30 living with OI to work towards independent living. Through peer support and expert advice, they discuss topics ranging from clothing to relationships.

In 2011, just before I graduated, the BBS nominated me for a Student Volunteering Gold Award. Cambridge’s Committee on Community Activities selected me and two other students as Gold Award winners. When, later that year, Samsung approached the University and asked it to nominate three people who had “gone the extra mile in volunteering”, we were the obvious choice.

I have known that I was going to bear the Torch since August 2011. Needless to say, it was hard keeping it to myself until April 2012! In December, I attended a dinner hosted by Samsung at which I was one of three people interviewed by Olympic Medallist Sally Gunnel about my charity work (pictured, centre left).

I will be carrying the Olympic flame on the 8 July 2012 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

To find out more about BBS and VOICE, please visit www.brittlebone.org

Find Catherine's official torch bearer profile on the London 2012 website.