Thalidomide survivor honoured with opportunity to carry Olympic torch

Posted on Monday 18th June, 2012

A woman from Haywards Heath, disabled by the effects of Thalidomide, has been selected to carry the Olympic torch for Mid Sussex. 

Lorraine Mercer is one of a small number of people with disabilities to be chosen for the honour and almost certainly the only Thalidomide survivor. 

Lorraine, who is 51, was born with all four of her limbs shortened after her mother was prescribed the drug during pregnancy.  She was not expected to live. 

Despite her difficulties and living with constant pain, Lorraine has still been involved in sport, art and charity fundraising.  She has taken part in three one-mile swimathons for the charity, Riding for the Disabled Association, drives carriages in the RDA and has won the RDS silver cup.  Lorraine also has a Blue Peter gold badge for her voluntary work at the Princess Royal Hospital helping people with physical disabilities. 

Lorraine, who uses a wheelchair, will carry the torch through Crowborough between 12:00 and 14:30 on July 17th 2012 riding in a customised chariot.  It will be day sixty for the Olympic torch's journey around the UK. 

Lorraine said, "It will be a really proud moment for me to carry the torch.  I'm delighted to have been chosen.  I just hope that the weather is kind as we carry it through Crowborough on the 17th."

Dr Martin Johnson of the Thalidomide Trust said, "We're really proud that Lorraine has been chosen to carry the torch.  Even though it's now 50 years old, the story of people affected by thalidomide is far from over and we're still campaigning for a permanent financial settlement.  We hope that by taking part, as well as it being a fantastic opportunity for Lorraine, it will keep a light shining on the cause of people affected by thalidomide across the UK."

Lorraine's torch-bearing will be part of its journey through Mid-Sussex up the A23 from Brighton to Crawley. 

You can find out more about the Thalidomide Trust at

Tags: thalidomide limb difference Olympics Olympic Torch sport paralympics Press Release


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