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Highlands

Day 28.  Friday 11 July.

Today the Queen’s Baton Relay reached Scotland’s biggest region, the world famous Highlands. The Highland region is not only huge -you could fit Wales inside it and have room to spare- it is also the Scotland that many visitors imagine. Mountain ranges dot the landscape, interspersed by heather covered glens and dark blue lochs.

With a region as big as the highlands the Queen’s baton relay had a lot to fit into its 13 hour journey from Orkney to Dingwall. The conditions were perfect with the Highlands enjoying hotter weather than World Cup city Rio de Janeiro.

When it reached John O’Groats in the morning, the baton hd already completed an early relay start in Orkney through St Mary’s and St Margaret’s Hope. From John O’Groats the baton ventured south, snaking through Wick, Brora, Golspie, Tain, Alness, finishing the day in Dingwall.

The first batonbearer of the day was Bashir Hasham, 79, who started at the crak of dawn in Orney. Bashir has organised Veteran's Badminton for over 50s. Bashir himself is an active participant and his efforts have provided senior citizens an opportunity to exercise on a weekly basis and stay active. For the last 8 years he has also walked / run in the Hoy Half Marathon, believed to be the second hardest Half Marathon in the UK.

With an astounding 130 nominations (over 6,000 words were written about his selfless, cheerful character by the local community), David Sedgwick is by far Scotland’s most popular candidate for participating in the Queen’s Baton Relay. For the last 25 years he has tenaciously worked as a consultant surgeon at Lochaber’s Belford Hospital, eventually retiring in January of this year.

All the batonbearers received rousing cheers from local residents, none more so than Ionutsa McLelland. Ionutsa spent the first fifth of her life in an orphanage in Romania. In spite of learning difficulties and early trauma, she has become a beacon of positivity, embracing life and people alike with wonderful enthusiasm and warmth. Her beaming smile as she carried the Queen’s message through the Highlands displayed what it meant for her to be a batonbearer.

The final baton bearer of the day was Mark Lee. Mark has captained Scotland's rugby sevens team in both the Commonwealth Games and the World Series. He also led the British Army team to victory in the 2011 Defence World Cup. Mark took the baton on stage at Dingwall to mark the end of a long but hugely successful Highland relay.

Baton Route

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Schedule

06.20St Mary's
07.05St Margaret's Hope
09.55Wick
13.15Brora
14.35Golspie
15.35Tain
17.05Alness
18.20Dingwall

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Featured batonbearers

Only 5ft 10 and 15 stone, Jamie is currently the under-25 Highland Games Champion in the Heavy Events category, a remarkable achievement given his physique. He travels hundreds of miles each year to compete at games throughout Scotland and his intensive training programmes and relentless practices ensures he not only remains at the level reached at the HG but surpasses his triumphs by the time the games come round again.

For the past 40 years the multi-nominated Betty has taught at Spean Bridge Primary, and has consistently been an excellent teacher to all those who have passed through her care. Her “strict, fair and humorous” approach has allowed pupils to develop and prosper in the right learning environment, though many of her nominees stressed her influence going far beyond the academic.

With an astounding 130 nominations (over 6,000 words were written about his selfless, cheerful character by the local community), David is by far Scotland’s most popular candidate for participating in the Queen’s Baton Relay. For the last 25 years he has tenaciously worked as a consultant surgeon at Lochaber’s Belford Hospital, eventually retiring in January of this year.

Cathol took part in last year’s Highland Cross, a 50 mile duathlon with 20 miles on foot and the rest on a bike. It’s an impressive feat, one that becomes truly incredible when understanding he did this when he was 79 years old (Cathol is also the oldest of our Highland baton bearing candidates). When he was a little younger, he regularly turned out for Thurso Swifts Football Club, then managed them and was later a committee member for many years.

Ruraidh currently volunteers as a member of the Junior Climate Challenge Grants Panel (a partnership between Young Scot, Keep Scotland Beautiful and YouthBank Scotland), and as a 2014 Commonwealth games Youth Legacy ambassador. The former gave him the opportunity to actively engage in the process of awarding funds and support to young people to take action on climate change in local communities.

After John’s wife sadly passed away in the Highland Hospice in 2009, he decided to volunteer selflessly for the establishment, and has done so since. A truly dedicated and fearless individual, he has canoed the Zambezi, cycled from Vietnam to Cambodia, jumped out of a plane, fire-walked and walked backwards over the Bealach Na Ba (the highest road in Scotland). When he’s not fundraising, he offers his help as a volunteer.

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