North Ayrshire is tomorrow, Tuesday 15 July, set to welcome the Queen’s Baton with a range of extraordinary batonbearers taking part in day 280 of the baton’s journey through 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth.
The Queen’s Baton will begin its journey through North Ayrshire with a morning handover at Wemyss Bay Station and Ferry. The relay will then visit towns and villages including Skelmorlie, Largs, Millport, Kilbirnie, Dalry, Kilwinning, Irvine, Stevenston and Saltcoats, before arriving in Ardrossan for the evening celebrations.
Highlights of the day include a visit by rigid-hulled inflatable boat to the Isle of Cumbrae, where the stunning elm wood that makes the baton’s handle is sourced from. The handle was constructed using a boatbuilding technique called bird-mouthing, traditionally used to make masts for ships. Actor, singer and comedienne Karen Dunbar will be carrying Her Majesty’s message at Largs Promenade.
Throughout the day the baton will make stops at both Inverclyde’s and Kilwinning’s sports centres, and visit Fullarton Care Home and St Matthew’s School in Ardrossan. An evening festivity to celebrate the day’s batonbearers will be taking place at Ardrossan’s South Beach, so that even bigger crowds can take part on the day.
Throughout North Ayrshire the Queen’s Baton will be carried by a varied group of astonishing individuals who make a difference to the lives of others. Starting the relay in Skelmorlie will be Penelope Hof, a long-standing and devoted guide leader, and John Gilmour, a dedicated volunteer firefighter and Royal National Lifeboat Institution crew member.
In Largs, the baton will be carried by two charity ambassadors, Janet Muir and Zoe MacLean. Over the last three decades Janet has raised a staggering £60,000 for a number of causes, while Zoe has raised funds for charities that train and match assistance dogs with people with physical disabilities, something Zoe is personally affected by. Also joining in the relay is former British champion ice skater Jean Scott-Brennan, who will carry the baton through her home town of Irvine.
Other athletes set to carry the Queen’s Baton through the North Ayrshire area include veteran judo master Graeme Randall MBE, athletics runner Hayley Haining, bowler Michelle Cooper and former European and World judo champion Loretta Cusack, who finishes the relay in Ardrossan.
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 North Ayrshire 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 North Ayrshire 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 North Ayrshire 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 North Ayrshire to get out and celebrate the countdown to the biggest festival of sport and culture this nation has ever hosted".
Joan Sturgeon, North Ayrshire Provost, said:
“The timing couldn’t have been better for the Queen’s Baton Relay to arrive in North Ayrshire. Right at the height of summer, when everyone’s in holiday mood, North Ayrshire will look magnificent and there will be a real buzz about the place because the Commonwealth Games are just a week away. A lot of hard work has gone into making this one giant celebration and I must thank local organisations, community groups and all our batonbearers for helping North Ayrshire Council make this a day we shall never forget. One vital ingredient is good weather – and I’m hoping the current spell of glorious sunshine is maintained so that locals and visitors will see North Ayrshire’s splendid coastline at its very best.