Schoolchildren from across Northumberland have been taking part in a variety of sports at Alnwick Castle today to celebrate the arrival of the Commonwealth Games baton.
Pupils from Years 8 and 9 from across the county descended on the grounds and Inner Bailey of the Castle to participate in a variety of sporting activities.
Some, like athletics, boxing and netball, will be represented at the Glasgow 2014 games, while archery has been a Commonwealth sport in the past and has been chosen to reflect the history of the Castle.
There is also a special nod to the more recent heritage of the Castle as participants try their hand at broomstick flying and Quidditch, the wizardly game played by Harry Potter.
It is hoped this day of sporting fun will inspire the next generation of Northumbrians to participate in sports and possibly one day represent Team England.
Stuart Harrop, head of PE at the Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick, said: “It’s a fun day, it’s all about enjoyment and participation, lots of different things. As you can see, it’s all about being active and enjoying themselves.”
The Queen’s Baton Relay is the traditional curtain-raiser to the Commonwealth Games, which start on July 23 in Glasgow. Alnwick is one of less than 20 places in England to have the honour of receiving the Relay.
Alnwick Castle, by kind permission of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, is hosting a celebration of the baton’s journey later today, marking its passing through Northumberland through to the host nation, Scotland.
The evening ceremony will take the form of an outdoor staged event in the Outer Bailey of the Castle for an audience of 2,500 people who successfully applied for free tickets online.
A programme of live music, video footage and interviews will be weaved together in a special ceremony marking the presentation of the baton from Commonwealth Games England to the Commonwealth Games Federation, who will then take the baton forward on to its final journey through Scotland. Prior to the start of the event, there will be an opportunity for guests to view and take a photo of the baton.
The baton contains a special message from the Queen to the Commonwealth, held in place by a commemorative gemstone and kept hidden inside the baton until it is read out at the opening ceremony.
Doors open to ticketholders at 5pm for music from a steel band, Commonwealth-themed food and a chance to see the baton. The stage show runs from 6pm to 7.30pm with compere Jonathan Miles, from BBC Radio Newcastle.
For a full round-up of the Queen’s Baton Relay in Alnwick, see next Thursday’s Northumberland Gazette.