Carrying the Olympic torch is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so it’s pretty likely that you’ll want a memento of the occasion – and organisers LOCOG have made sure that they’re ready to respond at any moment to your desires.
Making up your mind early is advisable. Torchbearers were informed that the cost would increase the nearer that the torch relay came. Before May 1, it would be available for £199, but once the relay started that cost rose to £215.
You can also buy a stand for your torch at an additional £40.
Luckily, if you’re an employee of one of the sponsors, such as Aggreko and adidas, your torch will be paid for by your employer. Those nominated through the public campaigns of Coca Cola and Samsung also get the torch thrown in for free.
But those nominated through the public campaigns of Lloyds TSB or LOCOG will have to pay for the torch themselves. According to This Is Derbyshire, LOCOG suggested people who found it difficult to buy a torch could hold a “cake sale” or “sponsored swim” to pay for what they believe “offers good value for a best-of-British designed, engineered and manufactured limited edition product.” Torchbearers used to raising thousands of pounds for good causes didn’t feel so comfortable about that.
In Warwickshire the local county council is helping local heroes by stumping up almost £5,000 to pay for the torches carried across the county. Coun Alan Farnell, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said that they did so because they wanted a “lasting legacy of the Games,” which, indeed, is of course one of the reasons why the Olympics was brought to the UK – although you might be forgiven for having the impression that any such legacy had already been paid for.
As a result of his council’s generosity, he adds: “Many torchbearers we have contacted have promised to take the torch into their communities and share their experiences with others.”
For a more personal account of what the torch means you can do little better than the account of one torchbearer, who had had declined to buy her torch in advance but later changed her mind:
“They gave us a further chance in the briefing but I said thanks, I wasn’t interested. [Later, however,] After having gone through the whole experience I was reluctant to let go of it. I also wondered what they’d do with the ones people didn’t buy. I asked the collection girl if it was too late – oh no she replied, I could pay over the phone and take it away today. Clearly they have bargained for this eventuality.”
For those who pass up the opportunity even then, however, there is still a final chance to buy the torch: unpurchased torches carried by celebrity torchbearers are currently fetching bids of between £1,000 and £2,000 on the Official London 2012 Auction site.