It has been proudly carried through the length and breadth of the Commonwealth sharing the warmth and friendship of Glasgow and Scotland with some of the world’s most diverse communities. Early this morning (Saturday, June 14) in a touching ceremony in the Border town of Coldstream, the Glasgow 2014 Queen’s Baton is to return to Scotland, marking the final straight of a 100,000-mile epic journey and the final countdown to the Commonwealth Games.
After 248 days visiting 69 nations and territories, the baton is set to be passed across the border by legendary triple Commonwealth gold medallist Daley Thompson to Team Scotland star Eilidh Child. Arriving with local Ghillie Brendan Lough along the River Tweed in a traditional fishing boat rowed by adventurer and broadcaster Mark Beaumont, the Queen’s Baton will be welcomed home with a guard of honour of local children, holding flags of the Commonwealth, along the historic Coldstream Bridge.
The handover moment is to be marked simply by BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year Robyn Stapleton performing ‘Here’s to our Common Wealth’, a specially-commissioned song for the Queen’s Baton Relay as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. The Coldstream Pipe Band will also participate in the celebrations.
Daley and Eilidh are past and present stars of Commonwealth sport. Team Scotland Track and field star Eilidh gained silver at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games and will be going for Gold in front of a home crowd in Hampden is just a few weeks’ time. Team England decathlete Daley Thompson is a triple Commonwealth Gold medallist, clinching his final Gold the last time the Commonwealth Games were held in Scotland, in Edinburgh in 1986. He’s half-Scottish, the son of a Scottish mother and Nigerian father.
Special guests due to take part in the historic occasion include Glasgow 2014 Chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin KT, Commonwealth Games Scotland Chairman Michael Cavanagh, Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Commonwealth Games, Sport, Equalities and Pensioners’ Rights, Helen Grant MP, UK Minister for Sport, Cllr Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council as well as hundreds of local residents who are expected to line the streets to see the Baton paraded to Henderson Park.
For the next 40 days, the Baton will visit more than 400 Scottish communities and be carried by more than 4,000 batonbearers being recognised for their inspiration, hard work and impact on the lives of others. The baton’s final destination will be the Opening Ceremony where Her Majesty the Queen will read the special message contained inside the baton.
This morning’s batonbearers will include Team Scotland wheelchair racing talent Sammi Kinghorn (17) and David Laing (70), from Kelso, a champion volunteer for tennis in the Scottish Borders with more than five decades of contribution to sport under his belt.
Other batonbearers in Coldstream today will include 91 year-old ice-skating teacher Bill Watt, who has been coaching children since 1964, and continues to inspire youngsters locally.
Entertainment for spectators along the route and at Henderson Park will include junk-percussion sensation Trash Arts, local troupe Coldstream Community Theatre Group, the Burns Society, the poetry crowd-pleaser force Q-poetics, brand new act Commonwealth Youth Circus, Hands Up For Trad as part of Big Big Sing, traditional music from Scottish Borders’ young talent Small Hall Band, and Coldstream cover band Guilty Pleasures. This is an opportunity for everyone to join in the relay on a great morning out. Broadcasters Jenni Falconer and Fred Macaulay will be hosting the morning’s programme of events on stage.
Following this morning’s celebrations in Coldstream, the baton will travel to Edinburgh for a packed programme of engagement and visits to iconic locations including Edinburgh Castle and 1986 Commonwealth Games venues, the Royal Commonwealth Pool and Meadowbank Stadium.
The route of the Queen’s Baton Relay has been developed to share the excitement of Scotland’s countdown to the Commonwealth Games with as many people as possible.
For the first time in the history of any relay, all 545 secondary schools in Scotland were invited to nominate a pupil to participate as a batonbearer.
Community batonbearers have been selected by independent panels, who have considered people’s achievements against the odds, their mentoring of young people, contributions to community and youth sport, and those who make a difference through volunteering and community support.
The relay will reflect the important role of sport by visiting schools, sporting facilities and leisure centres, encouraging communities to get behind Team Scotland, get involved with the Games and use its profile to get more people participating in sport.
The events in Colstream were made possible thanks to the extensive support and collaboration of local community groups and Scottish Borders Council.
Michael Cavanagh, Chairman for Commonwealth Games Scotland said:
“The first day of the Queen’s Baton Relay signifies the final countdown to the Games, and when it is handed from England to Scotland we will begin our final journey to Glasgow. The relay is an opportunity for people across the country to get out and show their support for the Games and for Team Scotland, and we are very proud to be a part of it. Athletes, past and present will carry the baton in all 32 local authorities and we will look to harness the passion and excitement from this weekend, right through until the end of the Games.”