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New Ryder Cup volunteers plan

AN army of young people is to be recruited to provide extra help for next year's Ryder Cup event in Scotland.

The volunteers will be in addition to the hundreds of helpers already arranged by organisers in a move announced last week.

Ryder Cup Europe was criticised over its volunteer programme for the international event between Europe and America's golfing elite at Gleneagles in Perthshire next year after charging helpers £75 to take part.

It was suggested the fee would prevent people from less wealthy backgrounds from taking part.

The levy is to help pay for food and clothing, while volunteers also have access to "one of the greatest golf events in the world", organisers said.

Labour's Patricia Ferguson MSP and Michael McCann MP were among those to criticise the charge.

The Scottish Government – which estimates the Ryder Cup will generate £100 million for the local economy in the week of the tournament when stars like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy compete – is now to include more people in the event with its own volunteer programme.

It is unclear at this stage what jobs the extra helpers will undertake.

The Ryder marshalls will take care of the 250,000 spectators with duties such as carrying scoreboards, ensuring crowd safety, selling programmes and driving buggies.

A total of 17,000 applications came from 46 countries, but the 1800 successful volunteers are from 27 countries.

But a Scottish Government spokesman said: "In addition to the volunteers assigned by Ryder Cup Europe, we are working with the organisers on a scheme designed to open up some extra volunteering slots for young people who may face financial barriers to being involved. However, these plans are at an early stage and we will provide more information once the scheme is more advanced."

The spokesman for Ryder Cup Europe said: "We are in discussions with the Scottish Government about a completely separate volunteers scheme.

"Naturally we would welcome any contribution that improves the event's sense of history, teamwork and passion for sport and we look forward to helping the Scottish Government to make it a reality. However, it will not supplement the existing official programme."

First Minister Alex Salmond received the baton of host nation in the form of a silver putter at the end of the last tournament in the US in October, which was won by Europe,

Opinion is divided in Gleneagles about whether local people are being involved enough in the gala competition.

A public meeting in Auchterarder heard positive and negative sides of the argument. While disruption is inevitable, some residents stand to earn hundreds of pounds by renting rooms and property while firms are looking forward to bumper takings.

The hosts have faced claims too few of the volunteers are from the immediately surrounding towns and villages, despite half of the helpers being from Scotland.

There are also concerns that the 850 Gleneagles staff, including greenkeepers and golf shop workers, will not be given any priority to buy tickets, the cost of which will be revealed in a few weeks.

A spokesman for Gleneagles said plans for the event are still being finalised while Ryder Cup Europe said more Perthshire residents were chosen than from any other area in Scotland

l Friends of St Margaret's Hospital, Auchterarder, Perth & Kinross Disability Sport and Quarriers have been named as the tournament's official charities at Gleneagles.

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