Published: May 22, 2012
Burnham-On-Sea Olympic torch seller faces £15,000 bill for eBay fees

A Burnham-On-Sea Olympic torch bearer who sold her torch for £153,100 on eBay says she faces a £15,000 bill to settle the auction site's selling fees because the winning bidder has so far failed to come forward.

Sarah Milner Simonds, pictured, has attracted nationwide media coverage in recent days since controversially placing her official torch and uniform on eBay to raise money for the community gardening group The People's Plot.

The community gardener - who ran with the flame through Dunster on Monday (as pictured) - said she was "overjoyed and flabbergasted" to find the auction had raised £153,100.

But since the auction ended at 10.33pm on Sunday after attracting 163 bids, Sarah says the winning bidder has not been in touch and she fears it may have been a hoax.

She told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "eBay has strict rules stating bids are legally binding contracts and an invoice has been sent to the bidder for £153,100, but we have received no response so far. The buyer has a 100% positive feedback rating based on previous purchases but just seems to have disappeared."

"This is incredibly disappointing not only because The People's Plot will miss out on this wonderful funding, but because it could now leave me out-of-pocket too. eBay has already been in contact asking me to pay the 10 per cent selling fee for the item, amounting to over £15,000. We just hope that the winning bidder comes forward and fulfils the deal."

Sarah added: "I am thoroughly proud to be representing Burnham in the torch relay, but rather than look at the torch for years to come on my mantelpiece I have decided to auction it and put it to long-term benefit for the community."

"Trying to get funding for community groups during the current financial downturn is incredibly difficult and I see this as a super opportunity."

"When I saw one torch sold on eBay for over £3,000 at the weekend I started to think about what good this could do."

She added: "I am dismayed that I am getting hateful messages on eBay from people saying I should not be selling the torch. They don't understand my motives."

"I was nominated for my environmental regeneration work with The People's Plot as a community gardener, so I am just continuing this. The money will give us an opportunity to run training sessions and help people across the country. It will help hugely in difficult economic times."

"I want to create practical, long-term benefit from my brief involvement with the Olympics."

Sarah's work as a community gardener has seen her visiting hard-to-reach groups in high density social housing areas across the UK where she gets people out of their homes, meeting their neighbours, growing fruit and vegetables.

They would then tend the crops together, share the produce and Sarah would invite local chefs into the gardens to cook - often outdoors - with the participants, helping them to remove dependency on ready meals and poor quality food. She did this on disused pieces of land, creating allotments were once people dumped rubbish. She also helps them with tackling issues such as neighbour disputes, noise and isolation along the way.

Sarah's torch being lit on Monday afternoon during the torch relay

Sarah appearing on BBC1's breakfast programme on Monday morning

 


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