Rick, who works in the operating theatres at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, was nominated for this very special honour by the parents of one of the many young athletes he coaches at Middlesbrough’s Clairville Stadium.
Robin Cameron thought Rick should be part of the event in recognition of his fantastic coaching, officiating and team managing efforts over the last 30 years.
A programme manager with NHS Connecting for Health, Robin said: “Rickman (Rick) Betts is a legend in grassroots athletics in Teesside and as one of the youth coaches with Middlesbrough (Mandale) Athletics Club.
“He has spent years coaching, training and, ultimately, inspiring generations of teenagers giving them focus, self-discipline, goals and ambitions – some from among the most disadvantaged backgrounds in the United Kingdom. Rick has a natural manner, firm and fair that teenagers both respect and respond to, in ways parents often cannot do.
“As a parent, it is humbling to see the fondness they develop for him and the way he fosters team spirit and team pride for each other. I nominated Rick for the hours that he sacrifices selflessly, week in, week out, in all weathers, for no personal reward other than to see his teenagers compete, grow and win. I know that a great many of the kids will overflow with pride to see Rick carry the Olympic torch.”
Rick has also spent the last 12 years until recently working as a voluntary union representative for the trade union Unison representing many members of staff of all grades across South Tees.
He also has the double honour this year of working as part of the timing and scoring team at the Olympic Games in Stratford, having already visited the capital three times for various training events including the test event at the stadium in May.
His first shift inside the Olympic Stadium will be during the showcase event of the Olympics, the men’s 100 metre final. He is anticipating a good race and possibly a new world record from the country of his father’s birth, Jamaica.
Rick said: “I now work in an area of the trust that I love and find very rewarding and with some great team members and I am also grateful to my department for allowing annual leave sometimes at late notice for me to complete my training commitments for the games.
“I was very surprised to be nominated for the honour of carrying the torch and even more surprised to be selected for it from so many worthy applicants. My coaching work is also very close to my heart as the thrill I get from seeing you people from all walks of life exceed what they thought was possible when they first join my group will never cease to give me great satisfaction.”
On his double Olympic honour, Rick said: “To be selected for the torch relay and as a member of the volunteer workforce in the Olympic Stadium during the games is beyond my wildest dreams, I think the only thing that could top that is one day one of the athletes I coach representing Great Britain on a global stage and winning their own medal.”
He plans to wear a sunflower on his uniform during the run in memory of former Unison colleague, Margaret Toase and in support of the work done by Teesside Hospice.
Rick will be will be handing over his torch to Macmillan Academy which his youngest son attends.