Cardiff Olympic torchbearer's boost for Haiti charity
A 21-year-old architecture student who supports Christian charity Haiti Hospital Appeal was one of the 2012 Games Torch bearers on its journey through Cardiff ...
Guylee Simmonds, 21, supporter of Christian charity Haiti Hospital Appeal was given the honour of carrying the Olympic Torch through Cardiff on 25 May. He's studying architecture at the university there.
Guylee, a member of St Margaret’s Church in Putney, was nominated due to his outstanding contribution to the charity's work, working out in the stricken country in the summers of 2009 and 2010. The charity was founded in 2006 by, at the time, 21-year-olds Carwyn Hill and Jonnie Horner who were so appalled at the conditions of hospitals in Haiti that, with the support of their church, family and friends, they raised funds to build a purpose-built hospital in the north of Haiti.
The hospital is now a renowned facility in the North Province and fully serviced with a maternity and paediatric unit with 44 beds, surgical theatre and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, providing a means to respond to birthing emergencies and premature births for the first time for many women and their new-born babies.
Guylee said: “I'm incredibly grateful for the once in a lifetime opportunity to carry the torch. It's a great privilege to be a part of the preparations for the Olympics, as well as a chance to raise the profile and tell more people about Haiti Hospital Appeal.
"To the day I die, I will never forget talking to the people being cared for in the specially set up spinal injuries clinic. Many of them had lost all their belongings and most of their family in the earthquake, yet they always gave you huge smiles when you walked into the ward. Their attitude and faith in the face of such incredible suffering was inspiring.
“It was phenomenal to carry the torch on Friday evening and was the perfect time to carry it as so many people turned out and really got on board with the whole thing, creating an amazing sense of community spirit. It made me feel like a celebrity because the crowds were so excited – and people were even dragging chairs out of the barber’s shop to get a better look. I also met so many interesting people among the other torchbearers and made me experience first hand the potential and excitement for the Olympics.”
The fully equipped spinal injuries rehab centre has rehabilitated 24 Haitians tragically severely injured by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti’s capital city Port Au Prince which killed about 200,000 people and left 300,000 or more disabled. A disability sport facility is also now under development as part of a broader desire to challenge the stigma of disability which leads Haitian society to label those with disabilities as ‘worthless’.
The Haiti Hospital Appeal would like to hear from anyone who can donate money, services or equipment to the charity to help them with their important work. They would also like to hear from medical professionals who are able to share some of their expertise to help train doctors and nurses in Haiti working at the hospital. Contact Haiti Hospital Appeal on 0208 462 5256 or visit www.haitihospitalappeal.org.