It's all for Conrad, says dad carrying Rio torch
A proud father has represented his son and his charity after being chosen to carry the Olympic torch in Brazil.
Tony Lewis walked a 200-metre stretch of the ongoing relay ahead of the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games after being put forward by friends.
All in recognition of the ongoing good work being done by a charity he set up after the death of his son, Conrad, who was killed in Helmand Province in February 2011.
Mr Lewis was left devastated when his 22-year-old son was killed while serving with the Third Battalion Parachute Regiment.
But said the honour to walk with the iconic torch was being done in memory and honour of the young man who will not be forgotten.
“When I found out I was to carry the Olympic Torch, given the background of the reason why, it was pretty emotional,” he said. “But it is also very humbling and a massive honour. Conrad would love it.
“He was an incredible athlete, which was why he was in The Paras. He would run 50 miles if he could carry it.”
Mr Lewis, who works for Nissan - an official sponsor of the 2016 Games - this month carried the flame through the city of Belo Horizonte (the City of Beautiful Horizons).
He was chosen as one of 12,000 torchbearers over 95 days after being nominated for the incredible honour by work colleagues who were inspired by the strength and “enormous dignity” he showed while coming to terms with Conrad’s death.
After the tragic news, the 53-year-old sales director, who lives near Claverdon with his wife Sandi, founded charitable trust, 353.org.uk to raise funds and help others experiencing similar trauma and circumstances to his family.
The trust, named to reflect the fact that Conrad was the 353rd British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan, has since raised more than £400,000.
Tony told the Courier: “To be told the company would like me to represent it is incredibly humbling and a massive honour.
“What a once-in-a-lifetime gift this is. I am passionate about doing the best I can for everyone here and Conrad.”
Mr Lewis said his stint as a torchbearer was set to form the highlight of an “incredible” five-day trip with his wife.
The Olympic flame will visit 83 cities over the next three month, including the 26 state capitals, and around 500 towns before its journey ends on August 5 and games begin.
The lengthy relay is expected to reach an estimated 90 per cent of the country’s population during this time - with each torchbearer passing the flame to the next until they reach Rio de Janeiro.
The Lewis family has been running charitable fundraisers and events through 353.org.uk, including Conrad’s Cycle, Rugby4Heroes days and fashion shows.
Conrad Lewis was on an operation to reassure the local population and provide security in the Nad Ali district of Helmand province when he was killed on February 9, 2011.
The Ministry of Defence said at the time of his death that Private Lewis and fellow soldier Lewis Hendry were on foot patrol in a village north of the Nahr-e Bughra canal when their patrol came under fire.
They both received serious gunshot wounds and despite immediate medical attention, sadly died from their wounds.
A family tribute read: “Conrad was an outstanding young man. He was a warm-hearted, funny, kind, loving, handsome and clearly a brave young man.
“It is a cliché to say that everyone loved him, but they did.
“He always considered others before himself, which made him the most fantastic and loving son, brother, boyfriend, friend and colleague.”