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By IH 14/06 Updated: 14/06 13:59
OLYMPIC torchbearers in the district are to be handed a unique memento of their once in a lifetime moment thanks to the county council.
For the 23 bearers on the Olympic torch relay route through Warwickshire who do not have commercial sponsorship to pay the £215 to buy the actual torch they carried, the council will buy the special souvenir for them. The total council bill will add up to £4,945.
The move comes weeks after Warwickshire Association of Youth Clubs chairman William Clemmey branded the charge as 'shocking' for those carrying the flame on one of the 300 metre legs through the county on July 1 and 2.
Mr Clemmey said it was "absolutely brilliant news" people would not have to pay themselves for the privilege of keeping their torch.
He added: "The charge first came to my attention when one of our members contacted me to ask for sponsorship. I was shocked, but this is great news, especially for the young people."
Coun Alan Farnell, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said the eyes of the world would be on Warwickshire when the flame arrived next month, and it promised to be a memorable occasion for everyone.
He added: “We want our torchbearers to have a special memento of their own Olympic moment, and Warwickshire County Council is proud to sponsor our local heroes who have been chosen because of their valued contribution to society.
“The torch embodies the Olympic spirit as the enduring symbol of the Games and it is important that we show support for our torchbearers by lining the streets and greeting every step of their journey with respect, excellence and friendship.
“As a county council, our ambition is to have a lasting legacy of the Games, and many torchbearers we have contacted have promised to take the torch into their communities and share their experiences with others.”
Torchbearer Graham Fulford, 65, from Warwick, runs a charity promoting the awareness of prostate cancer and has raised over £250,000 to enable 12,000 people to receive vital medical tests. He will be visiting local schools to talk about the Olympics and the torch relay.
He said: “It is a great honour to be chosen to carry the torch through my home town and I am hugely excited about the day. Warwickshire County Council has shown fantastic commitment to the local torchbearers by supporting us and offering to sponsor the torches to mark our achievements.”
The torch, which features 8,000 small cut-out circles, is manufactured by Coventry-based Premier Sheet Metal.
It will pass through the district on Sunday July 1, including Alcester, Newbold-on-Stour, Alderminster, and Stratford. Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/olympics for further details.
Flying the Olympic flag - Warwickshire County Council leader Alan Farnell (left) and torchbearer Graham Fulford. (s)
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