THE Olympic torch arrives in Grays on Friday (July 6), just 21 days before the opening ceremony.

Eight torch bearers, clad in special uniforms and flanked by Metropolitan Police officers, will carry the torch through the town.

The bearers have been nominated by different organisations and picked for a variety of inspiring reasons.

The first Grays torch bearer will be the youngest – 12-year-old Peter Mwaura, from Pitsea.

Grays girl Lauren Beard, 16, is the only torch bearer actually from the town while John Wyndham MBE, 66, is the last, taking the torch up to the Titan Works where the Grays route ends.

Peter Mwaura, 12, was nominated by his school, Westcliff Grammar to be a bearer.

Peter tragically lost his mother in a road accident last year, but has been hailed as “inspirational” by his school.

Peter said: “I was shocked because I didn’t think the Olympics would be in England in my lifetime so to be a bearer is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it.”

David Bland, 73, from Brentwood, was nominated by the members of his running club, where he has been a coach for 41 years, a role he took on after being inspired by the 1948 Olympics.

David was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2002 but continued to train runners. He also had a hip replacement in 2008, but using a bike, still coached members.

David said: “It’s fantastic to be a bearer. I felt it was a great honour to be nominated by the people I coach but this is the icing on the athletics cake, so to speak.”

Lauren Beard, 16, lives near Blackshots and goes to Grays Convent High School. Lauren was nominated by her school pals for the key role she plays in encouraging fellow pupils to get involved in sport.

She is a keen footballer who dreams of one day playing for England Ladies.

Lauren said: “When I found out, I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy. I think it’s going to be a brilliant experience and I think the Olympics will be amazing.”

Kirk Cross is a 44-year-old train driver from Hornchurch and father-of-two. Kirk is a community hero, nominated through his children’s school where he does a lot of voluntary work, building sets for concerts and reading to children.

He said: “I’m absolutely looking forward to it. I will be quite emotional on the day – I get choked up by crowds and cheering. I’m trying to get tips off of bearers who have run already to see what they’re doing.”

Helen Doyle was nominated by her colleagues at Proctor and Gamble in West Thurrock.

The 48-year-old, from Canvey, has had to care for her daughter, who has mental health issues.

Helen’s 49th birthday is the day after the torch relay.

She said: “It was very, very nice to be nominated. There are no words to describe how I feel about it. I’m extremely nervous. I think my daughter’s more excited about it than I am.”

Evanna Morrissey, 42, is from Nenagh in Ireland. Nominated by her Proctor and Gamble work colleagues, Evanna is an athletics fanatic who has run competitively from a young age and has been coaching at her local club for the last 10 years. Evanna has also been a children’s dance teacher.

John Wyndham MBE is director of the Royal British Legion Youth Band in Brentwood.

He formed the band 21 years ago and was nominated by its members.

He was originally a champion hairdresser who set up the John Wyndham salon in Hornchurch.

He said: “It was a slow process building the excitement, but now it’s getting nearer, it’s suddenly dawned on me that this is the real stuff. I’m thrilled and honoured.”

Donghai Liu, 45, from Beijing, was nominated to be a runner by Samsung. Donghai owns one of the largest mobile phone stores in China, boasting 1,300 stores across 80 cities in China.