Celebrations continue as Queen’s Baton travels through Highlands

Pipe band in Alness with Baton

Yesterday (Friday 11 July) the Queen’s Baton returned to the Highlands for day three of its visit through the region, with thousands of people along the route coming out to show their support and cheer on the baton bearers. 

The baton’s first appearance of the day was at John O’Groats where Clyde the Mascot posed next to the iconic sign showing he still has 287 miles to travel to reach the opening ceremony in Glasgow.  After a welcome by the Council’s Civic Leader, Councillor Gail Ross and the Lord Lieutenant for Caithness, Anne Dunnett the team headed to Wick where the streets were lined with people waiting to catch first sight of the baton. 

To the cheer of the crowds the baton bearers carried the baton through the town with local youth club chair Cameron Reid getting to take it into Rosebank Playing Fields which he has been instrumental in saving from closure. Lots of young people were there to cheer him on as part of a special open day. Meanwhile crowds were waiting in Bignold Park and a huge cheer went out when the baton arrived and kids taking part in the football coaching sessions and community events had the chance to meet Clyde and get their photos taken with the baton before it continued its journey south. 

Waiting at the Emigrants statue in Helmsdale was Councillor Deirdre Mackay and the Lord Lieutenant Dr Monica Main to welcome the relay convoy to Sutherland. After a photo session in glorious sun-shine, the baton arrived at Brora where 6 baton bearers were at the ready to take it through the village to a special gala event held at the School Park. A pipe band, cheerleading and lots of fun activities organised by the community gave a real gala feel to the event and the crowds were delighted to get the chance to meet Clyde and get photos of the baton.  After a lunch break at Brora Rangers Social Club the next visit was to Golspie where again a large number of people of all ages had come out to show their support with the local pipe band entertaining everyone and setting the scene for a colourful procession through the village from Seaforth House, down Main Street to the park where younger children were enjoying a story telling session. It was then time to say farewell to Sutherland as the convoy headed over the Dornoch Bridge to Tain.

Along Tain High Street hundreds of people had gathered and the Royal Burgh had a celebratory atmosphere with everyone enjoying the great weather and live music performed by Tain Pipe Band as they waited. The large crowd gave a very warm welcome to the relay team with lots of cheers and encouragement to the baton bearers who were really enjoying themselves as they carried the baton along the High Street and up to the tennis courts.

The next stop was the Alness Academy Playing Fields where children taking part in a summer play scheme were able to have their photos taken with the baton and meet the team before baton bearers took over to carry the baton down the High Street to the delight of family, friends and the community who had come out to show their support.  It was then on to Dingwall where the streets were packed with cheering crowds as the baton was carried down the High Street and over the railway bridge to Jubilee Park

Around 4,000 people were at the Highland Celebration event at Jubilee Park which had started at 5pm with a spectacular and very energetic by the Commonwealth Youth Circus. The acrobatic youngsters were followed by the Eden Court Flashmob dance team in a toe tapping routine, and both Ho Ro Ceilidh Band and musicians from Feis Rois who were joined by guests from Canada and Australia, got everyone in the mood as they waited for the Baton to arrive.  Master of Ceremonies, Iain MacDonald led the crowd in a countdown when Dingwall British Legion Pipe Band could be heard on the outskirts of the park, a signal that the baton was arriving. To loud cheers, Scotland’s most capped Rugby 7’s player who captained the team in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Grantown man Mark Lee carried the baton onto the stage.

Fiona McEwan, Vice-Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland then addressed the crowd before presenting The Highland Council’s Convener, Councillor Jimmy Gray with a replica baton. In his speech the Convenor thanked the thousands of people in the Highlands who had turned out both along the route and at the Jubilee Park to be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity. 

He said: “The scale of this relay allows communities who have never before witnessed the spectacle of the celebration to participate so I am delighted that so many people across the Highlands have had the chance to experience the spirit of friendship for which the Games is famous.

“I want to especially thank all the Baton Bearers for making sure it arrived here safely and to everyone who has come out to show their support. In Highland we hope that there will be a lasting Legacy from the Games and that more people of all ages will be inspired to take part in sport and activities.”

After Clyde the mascot had taken to the stage to perform some antics as he was interviewed, local singer Eilidh MacKenzie performed the Commonwealth song in both English and Gaelic. The Pipe Band then escorted the baton out through the crowds but the fun continued with a mass strip the willow and another flash mob performance.

The organisers were delighted with the whole event and wish to thank everyone who attended for making such a memorable occasion.

Today is the batons final day in the Highlands and it will travel to Inverness to Fort William with stops in Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus and Spean Bridge.

ENDS

12 Jul 2014
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