A teenager from Elstree who was never expected to walk took to the streets of Hatfield with the Olympic flame yesterday.

Talya Jacobson, of, Belmore Avenue, was diagnosed with meningitis at birth which left her with extensive brain damage.

Her parents were then told “not to expect anything” when she was then diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a visual impairment and epilepsy at eight-months-old.

But yesterday the bubbly 17-year-old proudly carried the Olympic flame through Hatfield, with her mother, Dr Beverley Jacobson.

Talya, who only started talking aged five, said she had the “time of her life” walking with the flame.

She added: “I wake up every morning grateful to be alive and have always had a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

“My family say they get so much strength from me and my wonderful attitude to life.”

Her mother, the chief executive of disability charity Kisharon, said she is an “inspiration to everyone” and she is very proud of her daughter, who is currently doing a life skills course at Lonsdale School, in Stevenage.

“She’s done fantastically, because when she had an MRI scan aged eight months the doctors said she might never walk. But she’s always had a great spirit.”

Talya’s visual impairment also means that she has trouble recognising people next to her and cannot make out floor levels, so her mother was by her side as she carried the torch.

Despite her disabilities, Talya, whose siblings are Daniella, 16, Harry, 13 and Gemma, ten, has always remained active.

She loves swimming, walking and running and five years ago, she swam the equivalent distance of the English Channel for charity. She has also completed the Eilat triatholon in Israel. Her charity stunts have seen her raise over £60,000 for Kisharon. She also attends Kisharon School every Friday.