Ipswich: Selling Olympic Torches for personal gain is “distasteful”, claims Ipswich charity worker

THOUSANDS of people have been given the honour of carrying the Olympic torch along its winding journey across the country.

But it seems some are determined to cash in on the privilege by flogging the iconic vessel on auction websites – for up to FIFTY times the �200 they paid for them.

Today, one proud Olympic torch bearer from Ipswich told of his disgust at the profiteering, branding those who choose to do so for personal gain as “distasteful”.

There are a total of 8,000 torch bearers across the UK who have been specially chosen to carry the flame for a small section of the route.

Stewart Bethell was nominated to carry the torch by Martin and Hayley Shave for the work he has done to support Camille’s Appeal, a children’s brain tumour charity.

He will be carrying the flame for 300m in Bury St Edmunds on July 7.

Those chosen for the special role have the option to buy the torch for �200 and get to keep it once they have completed their run.

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Since the relay started on Monday, there have already been some cases of people putting their torches up for sale on an online auction website. Bids are currently reaching �11,000.

Mr Bethell, 37, who spent 20 years as a Scout leader, said: “I was selected and am proud to be involved. I find this whole subject of selling torches for personal gain really distasteful.

“It had crossed my mind to sell my torch for the charity concerned but I was brought up to believe that there is always someone out there worse off than myself.

“I have got no objections to proceeds going to the charity – it is when people are doing it for personal gain that doesn’t sit well with me.

“I will look for suitable opportunities to raise the profile of the charity I’m supporting, but I will not be selling my torch to the highest bidder.”

Mr Bethell has already bought his torch but does not receive it until July 7. He is already planning on lending the torch to organisations to make money for the charity.

He added: “I sat and watched the TV for the first hour when the flame arrived and I sat there crying.

“You think about the children that will not have the opportunity to see the torch and that is really sad.”

The Olympic flame will visit 16 Suffolk towns and villages in three days in July, including Ipswich, Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Melton, Ufford, Wickham Market, Aldeburgh, Saxmundham, Kelsale, Southwold, Reydon, Wrentham, Lowestoft, Haverhill, Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket as part of its 8,000-mile journey around the British Isles.