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Baton’s back after 28 years

The batonbearers from the days relay hold the Queen's Baton on top of a coconut tree in Tarawa, Kiribat which  is nation 16 of 70 Commonwealth nations and territories to be visited by the Queen's Baton.

The batonbearers from the days relay hold the Queen's Baton on top of a coconut tree in Tarawa, Kiribat which is nation 16 of 70 Commonwealth nations and territories to be visited by the Queen's Baton.

A select few Northumberland residents, chosen for their contribution to local sport, will become batonbearers ahead of the Commonwealth Games this summer.

And they will be following in the footsteps of Alnwick resident Lee Collis, who carried the baton as a 13-year-old the last time the Games were held in Scotland.

In January, the Gazette reported that the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR), the curtain-raiser to this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, will conclude its journey around England in Alnwick this summer.

Plus, the stop at Alnwick Castle, on Friday, June 13, will include a ticket-only evening event, one of just 14 in the country, and the only one north of Leeds.

It will be the final event in England before the baton is handed over at the Scottish border.

As well as the evening event and activities for schoolchildren, there will be a small number of batonbearers, specially chosen for their contribution to sport in the local community.

Ahead of the Games’ second appearance in Edinburgh, in 1986, the QBR once again passed through north Northumberland and Lee was there to carry the baton through Powburn, having volunteered while a pupil at Morpeth Chantry School.

He remembers it being a more low-key affair, but thinks that British ice-dancer Nicky Slater, who competed at the 1980 and 1984 Winter Olympics, was there.

“Seeing the Olympic Torch (in Alnwick last year) was a reminder that I carried the Commonwealth one and, although it’s a bit smaller, it’s still a good thing to have done,” said Lee, who works as a paramedic.

And it’s something he can tell his children about when he takes them to see the baton as it visits Alnwick in June, having also taken them to see the Olympic Torch.

Despite hosting a popular games in 1970, the 1986 event in Edinburgh was very controversial as the Games were boycotted by 32 countries due to British sporting links to Apartheid-era South Africa.

 

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