The Highlands prepare to celebrate as Queens Baton Relay draws nearer
4th June 2014
With just a month to go until the Commonwealth Games Queens Baton Relay arrives in the Highlands, communities across the area are busy preparing to mark this once in a lifetime occasion.
The first Highland sighting of the Baton, which has travelled over 190,000kms around the globe, will be in Aviemore on Friday 4 June while it is en-route from Moray to Perth and Kinross. At 9.30am the Baton will be carried by 10 baton bearers from the north Grampian Road entrance through the town centre. Aviemore Community Council are co-ordinating local activities and young musicians from Feis Spe will be performing along the route.
The Baton then returns to the Highlands on Wednesday 9 June as it makes its way from the Western Isles to Orkney and Shetland. At 9am Clyde the official mascot will carry the Baton off the ferry at Ullapool Pier and present it to the Lord Lieutenant for Ross and Cromary, Janet Bowen who will hand it over to the first of 8 baton bearers. They will follow a route leading up Shore street and Mill Street to Morefield with a visit to the Macphail Centre and Ullapool High School where High Life Highland will be running children's activities.
The Baton then leaves for the Ferrycroft Centre in Lairg where children taking part in High Life Highland and community events will welcome it before 8 baton bearers are ready at 12.30pm to carry it from the Ferrycroft Centre through Lairg as far as the Police station.
Its final appearance of that day will be in Thurso at 2.30pm. To mark the occasion Thurso Sports Hub have arranged a day of sporting events and activities at Millbank Playing Field bringing together 14 local organisations. The Baton will start its tour of the town from here before travelling by the hands of 8 baton bearers to Gillock Park where local children will be enjoying a story-telling session featuring the Gruffalo. It will then return to the town centre at 3.30pm to visit the Caithness Horizons Viking Exhibition in the square where it is hoped that a local choir will perform the Commonwealth song.
The Baton's full day and night in the Highlands starts on Friday 11 July when it arrives at John O’ Groats at 9.10am. The Wick Pipe Band will join the Lord Lieutenant Anne Dunnett and representatives of The Highland Council and Natiral Retreats to welcome Clyde the mascot and the full relay convoy to what will be a long, busy and action packed day.
The first stop of the day will be Wick starting at 10.05am where 11 baton bearers will follow a route from the airport turn off road through the town past Rose Bank amenity area where Wick Youth Club will be arranging a series of children’s activities. It will then have a 25 minute stop at Bignold Park where High Life Highland will be running football coaching sessions and groups of young children will be enjoying activities.
Brora will be the next stop at 12.55pm where 8 baton bearers will be lined up to lead the relay from the north entrance to the village along Victoria Road and Rosslyn Street to Dudgean Park. The community are busy finalising plans that include entertaining the crowds with a cheerleading display and a pipe band as well as having activities for young people to enjoy in the park as the Baton arrives.
After a lunch stop at Brora Rangers FC, the relay heads south to Golspie where the baton bearers will be waiting at the all- weather pitch by the High School. After a guest appearance during the opening ceremony of the pitch, the Baton will start it’s tour of Golspie at 14.50pm with a visit to residents at Seaforth House before travelling down Main Street to the playpark where kids will be enjoying some community run special events.
Tain is set to welcome the baton at 16.15pm when 10 baton bearers will be lined up to take it along a route through the town to end close to Tain Tennis Club. Tain Community Council have arranged for live music to be performed in the town centre Rose Garden and Tain Pipe Band will be ready to give a rousing welcome along the High Street.
The next stop will be Alness with the baton arriving at Alness Academy Playing Fields at 17.05pm where High Life Highland will be running a wide range of community activities. Ten baton bearers will then carry the baton from the school down the High Street before the convoy heads back on the A9 to travel to Dingwall.
The Dingwall baton relay route starts at on Craig Road at 6.15pm and 10 baton bearers will be ready to take it along the High Street and then across the railway bridge to the Jubilee Park where it will carried on to the stage as the climax of a special Highland celebration event taking part in the park.
Gates to Jubilee Park open at 4pm for a free celebration event which starts at 5pm with a spectacular outdoor performance by the Commonwealth Youth Circus on a specially built set. This will be followed by African drumming, live traditional music and singing from Feis Rois as well as a performance by the Dingwall Pipe Band before The Convener of The Highland Council gives his official welcome to the Baton as it arrives on stage just before 7pm.
Highlands hosting of the Baton continues the next day when at 8am on Saturday 12 July the Provost of Inverness joins the first of 15 baton bearers at Inverness Castle to send it on its way from the city centre past Ness Bank Church, over Ness Bridge, past the Cathedral and around Bught Park to Inverness Leisure. Here it will join children taking part in sporting activities in Queens Park for half an hour before leaving the city and heading south to Fort William along the A82.
At 9.55am 10 baton bearers at Drumnadrochit will lead the relay through the village with a visit to Glenurquhart Shinty Club Park where a children’s shinty match will be underway. After an iconic photo at Urquhart Castle the convoy will continue on to Fort Augustus. After a lunch break the Baton will be carried at 1pm from the Village Hall by 10 baton bearers to the outskirts. The next stop will be at Spean Bridge where the first of 5 baton bearers will set off from the welcome sign at 1.40pm and carried it through the village.
The Baton’s final stop on its Highland journey will be Fort Willam. At 3.45pm it will be taken by 10 baton bearers from the train station across the Parade and up the High Street to the West End roundabout before following the A82 back to Lochaber Leisure Centre at 4.15pm. At the Leisure Centre High Life Highland will be running a triathlon activity day as part of it’s summer events programme and everyone taking part will be able to watch a short ceremony as the Leader of the Lochaber Area Committee, Councillor Thomas MacLennan does the official handover to Argyll and Bute Council.
Convener of The Highland Council, Councillor Jimmy Gray is looking forward to seeing the Baton and taking part in the celebrations. He said: "It’s incredible to think the Baton set off on its journey on 9 October last year and since then its visited 70 nations and territories across the Commonwealth. Now it is in the UK everyone is busy preparing for the final straight and this Highland leg is a fantastic chance for us to showcase our stunning scenery, famous culture and world famous hospitality. It gives people across the Highlands the chance to come out and line the streets to show their support and take part in the community celebrations.
"The journey through our area reflects the important role that sport plays in our local communities and with the world media watching, I’m sure it will be an exciting, dramatic and very memorable countdown to the Games."
High Life Highland have tied in many of their summer activity events to coincide with the visit of the baton to communities. Laurence Young Chair of High Life Highland said: “The Baton relay throughout the Highlands creates an exciting edge to the atmosphere surrounding our summer activity programme this year. We have more than 1000 activities taking place over the summer and it will be a memorable experience for some of our budding athletes to be able to see the baton first hand prior to the games commencing".
Names of all the baton bearers will be released by the Glasgow 14 team a few weeks before the Baton’s arrival in the Highlands.