Anger over torchbearers selling memento online
The honour of being chosen to carry the Olympic flame has given way to the lure of cold, hard cash as dozens of torchbearers put their golden trophy on auction websites.
As the first day of the relay, which started at Land's End on Saturday, closed the first gold torches appeared on ebay.
Sarah Milner Simonds, from Burnham-on-Sea, has received a bid of more than £150,000 for her Olympic torch which she carried through the village of Dunster yesterday.
She was nominated for her work as a community gardener and said the proceeds of the sale would go towards boosting the project.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
"This money will make a huge difference to the work we do," she said.
Describing her decision to sell, she said: "I am thoroughly proud to be representing Burnham in the torch relay, but rather than look at the torch for years to come on my mantelpiece I have decided to auction it and put it to long-term benefit for the community.
"Trying to get funding for community groups during the current financial downturn is incredibly difficult and I see this as a super opportunity."
One torch used on Saturday is currently attracting offers of more than £30,000.
The seller lists the item as: "An amazing sporting souvenir, be one of the first to have one." The 8,000 nominated torch-bearers can buy their golden coloured, aluminium torch for £199 in advance or £258 on the day – substantially less than the £495 manufacture cost.
Two of the Torch Relay sponsors, Coca-Cola and Samsung, are covering the cost and buying torches for their nominees.
Jason Murphy, 19, a football referee from Churston, Devon, who carried the torch in Dartmouth, said that it was "disgraceful" if torches were being sold for pure profit. "It's so precious – It should be a family memento that is passed down," he said. "I plan to make use of it by taking it into schools."
Michael Adams, 81, who ran with the torch at the 1948 Games, said that it "was not in the Olympic spirit" to sell the torch. "Like me, they should keep it so their grandchildren can hold it," he added.
A Games spokesman said that the bearers were free to do what they wanted with the torches, adding: "We just hope they go to a good home."