Torchbearers' anger at having to fork out £200 for Olympic memento
OLYMPIC torchbearers in Derbyshire say they are angry that organisers are making them fork out up to £255 to keep their torches – while some will get them for free.
Whether torchbearers have to pay for the ultimate souvenir of the relay depends on which organisation selected them.
Coca Cola and Samsung are paying for torchbearers to keep their torch, while those chosen by remaining presenting partner Lloyds TSB or games' organiser Locog have to pay the full amount.
Between March 20 and May 1, it cost bearers £199 to buy the torch they will carry. Now that the relay has started, the cost has risen to £215. Those wishing to buy a stand must pay an additional £40, taking the full cost to £255.
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The charges have been set by Locog, which defended the prices. A spokesman said the torches were being heavily subsidised, as each one costs £495 to produce.
But some of Derbyshire's torchbearers said the fees went against the spirit of the Olympic Games and it was a lot of money to be charging people who had been nominated as community heroes.
Ian Leech, of Branston, chosen by Lloyds TSB for his charity work and campaigning since his daughter, Mel, died of cancer, said he had reluctantly bought his torch.
He said: "My first thought was not to buy it because I don't agree with the cost. But in the end I decided to. It's something that I can take into schools when I give talks and it can be passed on one day to my other daughter, Becky.
"I'm annoyed though. Coca Cola and Samsung are paying the cost for its torchbearers, but not Lloyds TSB. I've written to them saying I don't agree with it. It should be a level playing field."
Olympics organisers suggested people who found it difficult to buy a torch could hold a "cake sale" or "sponsored swim".
But Mr Leech, who has raised about £20,000 for cancer charities since his daughter's death in 2008, said: "It wouldn't feel right to raise money for yourself. It should always go to charity."
Student Kate Lord, who was chosen for her swimming and athletics achievements, despite having glandular fever, also criticised the cost. The 19-year-old, of Poplar Road, Breaston, said: "It's quite expensive. I really wanted to keep it but couldn't afford it because I'm a student. Fortunately my dad paid £199 so I could keep it."
One of the lucky torchbearers who has not had to pay is Nigel Howe. The 37-year-old was chosen by Coca Cola for juggling single-parenthood with a full-time job and charity work.
He said: "It's fantastic Coca Cola have offered to pay for me to keep my torch, otherwise I'm not sure I could have afforded it.
"It means I can get it all properly framed and it can be passed down to my children one day so they can say 'my dad did that'."
Locog defended its decision to charge for the torches, describing them as "good value". A spokesman said: "We believe that this sale offers good value for a best-of-British designed, engineered and manufactured limited edition product."