Following a successful relay through Lincoln over the weekend, the Queen’s Baton for the Commonwealth Games was paraded through the rest of Lincolnshire on Monday ahead of the sporting spectacle.
The Commonwealth Games will be held in Birmingham this summer, starting with the opening ceremony on July 28 and lasting 11 days – pitting over 5,000 athletes against each other in a bid for gold medals in over 250 events.
A special tradition in the build-up for each games is the relay, which sees a specially-designed baton carried through towns and cities across the Commonwealth before arriving at the host area.
The baton travelled through Lincoln on Sunday (see our gallery here) and arrived in Skegness at 8am on Monday morning, before heading into Boston, Grantham, Loughborough, Derby, Bakewell and eventually closing the day in Buxton.
In Skegness the baton bearers were Paul Dixon and Geoffrey Wilson, each with a remarkable story of their own.
Paul, medically discharged from the army in 2004, is a chairman of Skegness’ Royal British Legion branch as well as a Lincolnshire Committee member, and he was the first to carry the baton before passing it to Geoffrey Wilson.
Geoffrey, 79, is one of the Magna Vitae’s longest serving members, and the RAF veteran reached new heights with the baton in his hand as he scaled Altitude 44 and rang the bell at the top of the facility before he was lowered down by a zip wire.
Commonwealth Games Minister Nigel Huddleston was in Skegness to welcome the baton and meet the bearers. During his visit, he thanked the inspirational Batonbearers for being pillars of their community while also praising Skegness as a visitor destination.
He said: “As a Yellowbelly myself, I always love returning to Lincolnshire and especially today because we are able to highlight both the Commonwealth Games and Skegness as a fantastic tourism offering. It has been a pleasure to meet the Batonbearers, they are truly inspirational and pillars of their community.
“It is always fantastic to come back here to Skegness, a truly family friendly resort. There is so much investment happening here, it is a town which knows how to constantly refresh its brand and offer something different. I encourage anyone who has not been to Skegness for a while to come and see what the town has to offer.”
The Queen’s baton would then move into Boston, where bearers Peter Ward and Linda Baxter took it on a route via Church Street near the iconic St Botolph’s Church.
Peter gives his time to the local triathlon club, and at the age of 69 he qualified for the GB Age Group World and European Duathlon Championships.
As for Linda Baxter, she is the head coach of Evolution Martial Arts in Boston, producing British, European and World kickboxing champions over the last 14 years.
Cllr Nigel Welton, Boston Borough Council deputy leader, said: “What a fantastic occasion it was to bring the Queen’s Baton Relay to Boston. The town is proud to have been chosen to host the event and play its part in this national ceremony.
“I would like to thank the Batonbearers Peter Ward and Linda Baxter for their service and commitment to the town and I hope they enjoyed their special day.”
Finally for Lincolnshire, the baton came to Grantham, where hundreds lined the streets to welcome this celebration of global community and sporting excellence into our county.
It was carried through the South Kesteven town by cycling campaigner Roy Redman, charity fundraiser Hannah San Jose and cancer survivor Rachael Bradley.
With all three having inspirational stories behind their lives, as well as making positive contributions to the community, they were selected as representatives of Grantham as the eyes of the Commonwealth fell on Lincolnshire.
Schoolchildren and adults alike were seen in the streets clapping, cheering and waving flags as the baton went through Grantham on Monday – on the last leg of its Lincolnshire tour.