Wembley Olympic torchbearer slams plans to charge runners £200 to keep their torch
PUBLISHED: 08:00 31 March 2012
Nominee who has volunteered in Brent for more than 25 years thinks council should foot the bill
An Olympic torchbearer from Wembley has slammed plans to charge runners £200 to keep their own torch.
Keith Gussy-Young was nominated to run the high-profile relay after dedicating 25 years to running sports clubs for young people in Brent.
But the 51-year-old, who is a qualified coach, is furious that he has been asked to pay £200 to keep the torch.
He said: “I don’t think I should pay for it. Not a lot of people are happy about it. Why should we have to find £200? I’ve given up the past 26 years to volunteering and spent a lot of my own money on people in the borough. I’m sure the other torchbearers feel the same.”
Mr Gussy-Young believes Brent Council should pick up the bill. He said: “We are representing Brent so I think Brent Council should pay for the torches. I don’t think it is fair to ask us. I have been helping kids in Brent for 25 years and this is how we are repaid. They are just trying to make money out of us.”
Mr Gussy-Young, who grew up in the borough, has worked with Brent Youth Service for 17 years, ran St Andrew’s Youth Club in Willesden and Gladstone Centre Youth Club in Cricklewood as well as Brent School Football Association.
He also works with community radio station Roots FM and coaches girls and boys football at Wembley Primary School, in East Lane, Wembley.
Mr Gussy-Young also scouts youths for trials with Queen’s Park Ranger Football Club.
But a Brent Council spokesman said: “The council will not be purchasing the commemorative torches as this is not the best use of funds at a time when we have to make big savings and also, we aren’t aware of how many residents are taking part so it is unclear how much this would cost.”
If all 8,000 participants bought their torch, it would raise £1.6million. But the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has defended the costs saying the torch costs £495 to make.
The Olympic flame arrives in the UK on May 18 and begins its 70-day journey at Land’s End the following day.
The flame will be in Brent for two hours and will arrive mid-morning on July 25 via Harrow Road, in Sudbury.