Lance Armstrong celebrity guy to burn at Edenbridge

Lance Armstrong effigy Lance Armstrong beat competition from Abu Hamza and George Osborne to be the guy at the Edenbridge bonfire celebrations

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An effigy of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong wearing a Jim'll Fix It badge will be burned at a Kent town's annual bonfire celebrations.

A 30ft (9m) model of the American, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping offences, will go up in flames in Edenbridge.

The Jim'll Fix It badge is in reference to TV presenter Jimmy Savile who is suspected of widespread sexual abuse.

Radical cleric Abu Hamza and Chancellor George Osborne were also considered.

Members of the Edenbridge Bonfire Society said choosing Mr Armstrong as the effigy, which will be torched in front of thousands of people on Saturday, was not easy.

'Biggest villain'

Start Quote

Lance Armstrong is certainly the biggest villain in sport”

End Quote Mark Young Edenbridge Bonfire Society

Spokesman Mark Young said: "Lance Armstrong is certainly the biggest villain in sport, with fans across the globe feeling cheated by a man who was thought to be whiter than white."

Society co-ordinator Charles Laver said Mr Osborne was ruled out for being "a bit boring".

"We had a shortlist which included Jimmy Savile but it was decided it would not be nice to use him as a lot of children attend the bonfire and they might start asking their parents questions," he said.

"Then we had George Osborne but he hasn't really got a face that everyone knows and he's just a chap in a suit. We felt he would be a bit boring.

"We started to do Abu Hamza but then we decided we weren't entirely happy to do him, so Lance Armstrong came out of the woodwork."

Sussex martyrs
Artist Frank Shepherd adds finishing touches to celebrity guy Mario Balotelli Last year a 40ft effigy of footballer Mario Balotelli was unveiled

Other public figures who have been chosen as the celebrity guy at Edenbridge in past years include Cherie Blair, Katie Price, Gordon Brown and Russell Brand.

Last year the society chose Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, who was picked after a firework was set off in his bathroom.

Edenbridge Bonfire Society is one of dozens of bonfire societies across the South East, mainly in Sussex.

The societies are thought to have grown out of the "cult of the Sussex martyrs" which started in the 19th Century.

Every year during October and November each society holds a 10-week "bonfire season".

Bookmaker William Hill had Mr Armstrong listed as the favourite to be the effigy, with footballers John Terry, Ashley Cole and Luis Suarez also considered.

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