THE Olympic Torch will arrive in Dorset to a fanfare of celebration next week – but many torchbearers will not be the “inspirational” local role models originally promised.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to line the route of the Olympic Torch Relay and cheer on the hundreds of torch bearers who will carry the flame through the county’s villages and towns.

Some have been chosen for their inspirational life stories – individuals who have battled against the odds, raised thousands of pounds for charity or achieved great sporting success.

But there are many other, more puzzling, names on the list.

Of the 132 torch bearers who will carry the torch through Purbeck, Poole and Bournemouth on Friday, July 13, just 80 live in Dorset.

Nine of Dorset’s torch bearers are from China and 15 are from Hungary. Although some do have inspiring stories, half have no nomination story on the LOCOG website so there is no way of finding out why they have been selected or who nominated them. Chinese runners elsewhere have been revealed as Samsung nominees.

Other Dorset torchbearers include:

• Four Olympic staff members – a venue health and safety officer from Epping and three people who work for the Olympic Broadcasting Service.

• A Basingstoke councillor, who is also a senior manager at Lloyds Banking Group.

• A Belgian, nominated for having an eco-home and driving an eco-friendly car.

• A Vodafone account manager, who says on an online profile that he was nominated to carry the Olympic Torch because of his strong sales performance.

• A Met Police constable.

Cllr Derek Borthwick, Bournemouth’s sports “champion” said: “We’re very disappointed in the fact that many of these people have got no connections with the town or the borough. We just don’t understand it.

“I would have liked Bournemouth to have picked its own torch bearers, people who have done things for the community or soldiers who have fought for the country.

“It all seems different to how I first understood it, to me it’s just a commercial thing at the moment, it’s not in the true spirit of the Olympic Games.”

There is also disquiet in Corfe Castle, where 20-year-old Budapest resident Richard Vere has been chosen as an official torch bearer. He is a kick-boxing champion from a difficult background but will be running in a village where the local pub landlord’s son was imprisoned in a Hungarian jail.

Michael Turner, son of Castle Inn landlord Mark Turner, spent four months without charge in prison. His trial in Budapest has been beset with delays and is not likely to conclude until November.

Cllr Michael Bond, vice-chairman of Corfe Castle parish council, said the village was “underwhelmed” by the forthcoming torch relay.

The other three people carrying the torch in Corfe are from Wareham, Bournemouth and Brighton.

The parish council’s nominee Ian Tarbotton, nominated because he has done more to promote sport in Corfe Castle than anybody else, was rejected.

Cllr Bond said: “We’ve got somebody who has done an enormous amount of work with youngsters and football in Brighton carrying the torch here, instead of the person who has done an enormous amount of work with youngsters here. How barmy can you get?”

What do we know about the non-local runners? Find out at

He also said the decision to select a Budapest national to run in Corfe Castle was “crass stupidity” adding: “I think LOC OG have really missed an opportunity. I understand in most cases the people carrying torches through communities are not from those communities and I think that is a real shame.”

Unsuccessful torch bearer nominee Simon Melaniphy, of Westbourne, said he thought LOCOG had “got the balance wrong” between sponsors and community role models.

The 38-year-old was nominated by his father for his efforts in starting a successful business in Poole, acting as a Prince’s Trust mentor and fundraising for the British Heart Foundation.

He said: “It was disappointing to miss out, particularly seeing the people who have been running with the flame.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, especially if you can run in your home county.

“I have a bit of sympathy with some inclusion from the sponsors but I think maybe there is too much outside interest.”

Triple Olympic medallist Rodney Pattison, of Hamworthy, was also rejected but has now been told he can carry the torch.

Commodore Barry Rolfe, of Parkstone Yacht Club, said: “We were surprised when Rodney was initially turned down, especially when we saw there were a lot of people from China or Budapest where you thought ‘Well, what were the criteria?’

What LOCOG says

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games says that 90 per cent of the 8,000 torch bearer places were made available to the public through a number of channels, including the four public nomination campaigns run by LOCOG, Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. Each of the 8,000 torch bearers will have a story of personal achievement or contribution to their local community.

“Staging the Olympic Torch Relay is a huge undertaking and we couldn’t do it without support from commercial partners.

“LOCOG has worked hard to ensure people are within an hour of their postcode. There will be instances where people are not carrying the flame in their home town as the relay is not going everywhere.

“Through our partners and global sponsors a small percentage of runners will come from overseas, we have always been clear about this.

“The Games are a global event. A small number of people from the UK have run overseas in every previous relay and ours is no different. Where there are runners from overseas they tend to be grouped together for logistical reasons.

“More than five million people have lined the streets to watch the torch relay so far.”