Anger as bearers cash in on relay

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TORCHBEARERS set to carry the Olympic flame through South Yorkshire have said they will be keeping their torches as personal mementoes – after several of the souvenirs were put up for auction on the internet at vastly inflated prices.

The Olympic flame has now embarked on its 8,000-mile journey around the UK and will reach Sheffield on Monday, June 25.

However, just hours after the relay began on Saturday, golden torches began to appear on auction website eBay, some with a starting price of £100,000.

John Burkhill, from Richmond, will be carrying the torch through Chapeltown in recognition of his tireless fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support.

He said he thought the auctioning off of torches was ‘disgraceful’.

The 73-year-old said: “Unless it’s for charity, they shouldn’t be doing that at all.

“I think it’s disgraceful. They should keep it as a memento. I’m going to keep it forever.

“I will never part with it. It’s part of history.

“I understand how people are, they are desperate, but I don’t think you should make a profit out of it.

“I think it’s going to be a big racket in a lot of ways, it’s open to exploitation.”

Swimming instructor Sue Presad, who will be carrying the Olympic flame through Ecclesfield, is also against the selling of torches to make money.

Sue, who has already purchased a special display case to wall-mount her torch, said: “It won’t be something I’m doing.

“People have different circumstances and are doing it to support charities, but for personal gain it goes a little bit against the grain, I would say.”

But she said the fact that torches are already available on eBay will not cheapen the experience for her.

She said: “It’s still something amazing. We’re one of 8,000 and nobody can take that away.”

Meanwhile, Rita Howson, set to carry the flame in Thrybergh, Rotherham, said she was ‘on the fence’ about selling torches.

Rita, director of operations at Sheffield-based charity Support Dogs, said: “If that’s what people want to do that’s their prerogative. It depends why you’re selling it, a lot of people have been doing it for charity, raising money for good causes.”

“Any torches which are not bought will get auctioned or sold. There are a lot of people who can’t afford to buy them and there are a lot of young children torchbearing.”

It cost £495 to make each torch and runners were given the chance to buy them for about £200.

A spokesman for Olympic organisers LOCOG said: “The majority of people will want to keep their torch, but it’s their property and for them to decide what to do with it.”

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