Falkirk is today, Tuesday 24 June, set to welcome the Queen’s Baton as it travels through the area, with a range of extraordinary batonbearers taking part in day 259 of the baton’s journey through 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth.
The Queen’s Baton Relay will venture across Falkirk, and visit several communities including Denny, Larbert, Bainsford and Stenhousemuir. At Larbert a touching visit to Forth Valley Royal Hospital will precede the baton’s arrival at the Falkirk Wheel, where a boat is set to take the baton along the Forth & Clyde canal. Also planned are visits to Callander House, Kinneil House in Bo’ness, and within the 15th century walls of Blackness Castle.
The relay will pass through Grangemouth, stopping briefly at the stadium and Spitfire Memorial, before heading to Falkirk’s stunning equine sculptures The Kelpies, where the baton will arrive by barge. The recently-completed arts project, homed at The Helix, will also play host to the relay’s evening celebrations, giving locals the perfect opportunity to assemble and celebrate the day’s batonbearers.
The baton will be carried by a varied group of batonbearers, those astonishing individuals who make a difference to the lives to others. Falkirk’s eldest batonbearer is Bill Wintrup, who over the decades has volunteered in countless capacities, be it collecting tins to and from shops, driving people to counselling, or washing dishes in the kitchen at Strathcarron Hospice, a place dear to his heart. Bill is joined by young, burgeoning Highland dancer Cameron Walker, whose talent has earned him 47 Championships and the chance to compete at the World Finals. Carrying the baton is also Robert Callahan MBE, founder of the Falkirk School of Gymnastics, former chair of Falkirk Sports Council for nearly three decades, and at 70 years of age, is still coaching gymnastics.
Inaugurating today’s relay will be table-tennis veteran Stewart Crawford, while hammer-thrower Myra Perkins and 2010 Commonwealth Games Scottish medallist Jak Scott will also carry the baton through Falkirk.
Shirley McIntosh MBE, female record holder for the number of Commonwealth Games rifle shooting medals, will trigger the baton’s stint in Grangemouth, while budding swimmer Charlotte McKenzie, who showed promise with a Bronze medal in the Commonwealth Youth Games, has the honour of carrying the baton at The Kelpies. Concluding the relay will be Steve Frew, the former Scottish and GB athlete, and also the first ever Scottish gymnast to bring home a Gold medal from a Commonwealth Games.
A unique tradition of the games, the relay offers people across the country a chance to be a part of the excitement, celebrations and countdown to Scotland’s biggest-ever sporting and cultural festival and show their support for the home team.
For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Games, a pupil from every school in Scotland has been nominated to get involved in the celebrations and carry the baton, making it the world's most engaging relay to date.
Nearing the end of its 190,000 km journey through the 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, by the time the baton arrives at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony, it will have covered 4,000 km in Scotland alone, showcasing the nation’s culture and iconic landmarks during its visit to over 400 communities across all 32 local authorities.
The relay reflects the important role of sport by visiting schools, sporting facilities and leisure centres, encouraging communities to get behind Team Scotland, get involved with the Games and using its profile to get more people participating in sport.
Commonwealth Games Scotland Chairman, Michael Cavanagh, said:
“The Queen’s Baton Relay is the ultimate symbol of the Commonwealth Games and its arrival in Falkirk and journey through Scotland is an important signal to both the athletes and the public that the Games are just around the corner. The relay offers residents in Falkirk the ideal opportunity to celebrate community sport and show support for their local athletes selected to represent Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014. We hope everyone the length and breadth of the country will get behind the team and play their part in what is going to be an amazing home Games!”
David Grevemberg, Chief Executive of Glasgow 2014, said:
"The Queen’s Baton Relay is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people across Falkirk to celebrate what’s extraordinary and unique about their community, and honour those locals who make a difference to others. The baton is visiting hundreds of villages, towns and cities across Scotland with thousands taking part in the relay, and many more attending the vast programme of sports and cultural events along the route. It's a great reason for Falkirk to get out and celebrate the countdown to the biggest festival of sport and culture this nation has ever hosted".
Councillor Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council’s spokesman for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, said:
“We’re looking forward to welcoming the Queen’s Baton to the Falkirk Council area on June 24. The baton will visit local schools and some of our most iconic landmarks - from the Falkirk Wheel, Steeple and Callendar House to Kinneil House and Blackness Castle. It will also visit the Grangemouth Spitfire Memorial and the town’s Stadium before ending up at our world-famous Kelpies and the Helix Park for even more activities on the evening. I hope local people will get out and line the route and the enjoy the free supporting cultural and sporting activities that have been organised by Falkirk Community Trust – backed by funding from Falkirk Council, Event Scotland and Creative Scotland. Let’s hope we get great weather to enjoy this wonderful build up to the Commonwealth Games and Glasgow 2014!”