Highland Communities show support on final day with baton
Saturday was the fourth and final day that the Highlands hosted the Queen’s Baton and even the overcast sky and rain could not dampen the enthusiastic support communities gave the relay as it made its way from Inverness Castle to Fort William.
Over 4,700 people came out to cheers the 53 baton bearers involved in the 150 mile route from the centre of Inverness to Lochaber Leisure Centre with stops in Drumnadrochit, Urquhart Castle, Fort Augustus and Spean Bridge. The baton even had the chance to enjoy a trip from Glenfinnan to Fort William on the Harry Potter steam train!
Starting at 8am, baton bearers were cheered on as they left Bellfield Park and took the baton up to Inverness Castle where the Provost of Inverness, Councillor Alex Graham was waiting. Entertaining the crowds were young Highland dancers Lily and Grace Kelman as baton bearers lined up to take the Baton from the Castle along River Ness and around Bught Park to Inverness Leisure. Here at Queen’s Park groups of young people taking part in a special children’s event organised by Inverness Leisure enjoyed running around the track with the baton and meeting Clyde the mascot. Olympic champion in the men’s 100 metres and Commonwealth Champion in both the 100m and 200m athlete Alan Wells, the current 100m record holder at the Inverness Highland Games, turned up to meet the young athletes.
The next stop was Drumnadrochit and after a photo outside the monster exhibition the route through the village ended up at the local shinty pitch where the young players formed a guard on honour for the baton and the community had a chance to get their photos taken with the baton. After a photo shoot at Urquhart Castle with the stunning backdrop of Loch Ness, the convoy, which included a media vehicle with film cameras broadcasting the journey live on a newsfeed, headed to Fort Augustus.
Here the community activities were centred around the Village Hall and there was plenty of time for the baton to be shown to everyone while the team had their lunch break. It was then the job of the baton bearers to lead the relay through the village to the delight of everyone who had come out to line the streets.
Travelling south along the A82 the convoy visited the Commando Memorial before four baton bearers carried it through Spean Bridge with the local community showing their support. It was then driven to Glenfinnan and after photos at the memorial it boarded the steam train to Fort William arriving in the arms of the most nominated of all baton bearers in Scotland, local man David Sedgwick.
David was joined by a team of 13 other baton bearers who took the baton along Fort William High Street where a huge number of people were waiting to catch sight of it. The last stage of the route was to Lochaber Leisure Centre where lots of local children were taking part in a special activity day organised by High Life Highland. At 5.15pm there was a short hand- over ceremony at the Leisure Centre as Councillor Bren Gormley officially passed the baton to Argyll Council.
Convener of The Highland Council, Councillor Jimmy Gray said: “The crowds on Saturday were great with over 4,700 people lining the route to cheer on the baton bearers and show their support. Over the four days we have hosted the baton in the Highlands all the communities have been fantastic and really engaged with this unique chance to get involved. It has been heartening to see the enthusiasm and hard work of so many people make the visit to our area such a success. I’m sure everyone will have lots of great memories and we can now look forward to the 2014 Commonwealth Games beginning.”