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Olympic 50p coins on their way

The Royal Mint is to issue a new set of 50p coins designed by members of the public to celebrate London hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics.

The coins, which come into circulation this month, will feature all 29 Olympic and Paralympic sports that will be contested in 2012.

For the first time in the Mint's 1,100-year history, the coins have been designed by members of the public, with 29 different designers - one for each coin - being picked from nearly 30,000 entries in a public competition.

A panel of independent experts and representatives from Royal Mint, London 2012 and the International Olympic Committee picked the winning designs by people including a Manchester policeman, a delivery driver from Reading and a 75-year-old retired social worker from Derby. Like every UK coin in general use, approval from the Queen and the Treasury has been gained, while the coins will also be the Royal Mint's biggest joint release of designs on coins for general use.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said: "Coins are a part of the fabric of our daily life, so to have a range of coins designed specifically to celebrate London 2012 is a huge honour, made all the more special by the fact that members of the public have designed them.

"The 50ps will be part of a long-lasting, wide-reaching cultural legacy that will benefit the entire nation and I'm looking forward to finding the first one in my change and collecting the entire range."

Royal Mint director of commemorative coin, Dave Knight, added: "Every one of the winners is making history.

"Their coins will become treasured mementos of the biggest sporting event to happen on UK shores for over half a century and we hope will encourage a new generation of collectors."

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