Crowds cheer as Baton visits Ross-shire, Sutherland and Caithness
Yesterday (Wednesday 9 July) the sun shone as crowds turned out in three areas across the Highlands – Ross-shire, Sutherland and Caithness – to cheer when the Queen’s Baton made its way from the West Coast to the North Coast.
It was the second day of four of the baton’s visit to the Highlands’ towns and villages, with 25 baton bearers taking the globally well-travelled Baton around the communities of Ullapool, Lairg and Thurso.
The day started when Clyde the mascot disembarked from the ferry at Ullapool carrying the Baton which was officially welcomed to the Highlands by the Lord Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, Janet Bowen. It was then over to baton bearers Jessica Ryan, Tom Evans, Iain McCall, Carla Maclean, Rebecca Nelson, John Urquhart, Hazel Keiro, Ginette Anderson, David Downie and Fiona Johnston to take it on a route around the village which included a visit to the MacPhail Centre where war veterans’ Donald McKenzie and Peter Ross were waiting to see it. After visiting kids attending a special community sporting themed event organised by High Life Highland the relay convoy said goodbye to Ullapool and headed north to Lairg.
At the Ferrycroft Centre basking in the sun were hundreds of people eagerly awaiting the Baton’s arrival and enjoying live music, a choir, a wood carving demonstration, free boat trips of the Loch and lots of fun sporting activities for the whole family. The Baton was cheered when it arrived at Ferrycroft and local children and adults queued up to get their photos taken with it. Then baton bearers were lined up and people waved and cheered as the relay made its way through Lairg. There was one more stop in Sutherland before the convoy travelled to Thurso.
Crofter, historian and author John MacDonald who was waiting at the memorial cairn for the first Premier of Canada, was joined by a group of local guests including George Murray, Sheila Bond, Brenda and Donnie MacNeil and Brian Gibson for a photo opportunity with the baton while piper Alasdair Mearns played, highlighting to the world audience the special relationship between the area and Canada.
The final stop of the day was Thurso. The baton arrived at Millbank Playing Field in the afternoon to join the young people taking part in a day of special events and activities organised by Thurso Sports Hub and High Life Highland. From here baton bearers, which included 1986 Commonwealth hurdler Moira McBeath, paraded the baton through the streets up to Gillock Park where local children were enjoying a storytelling session. There was just time for a quick visit to the Viking exhibition outside Caithness Horizon before the baton convoy said farewell and continued their journey onto Orkney.
Tomorrow (Friday 11 July) the Baton is back in the Highlands and will travel south from John O Groats with visits to Wick, Brora, Golspie, Tain and Alness before it arrives in Dingwall to be carried on stage during the free Highland celebration event in Jubilee Park. Gates open 4pm for a 5pm start with the baton expected on stage at 6.45pm. A park and ride service to and from Dingwall Auction Mart will be operating and anyone coming along should be use this complimentary service to travel to and from Jubilee Park.
On Saturday the baton leaves from Inverness Castle at 8.30am and makes its way to Fort William with visits to Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus and Spean Bridge. After baton bearers take it around Fort William High Street it will be taken to Lochaber Sports Centre to be officially handed over to Argyll and Bute Council.