Suffolk: County to welcome Commonwealth baton in run-up to Glasgow games
18:30 29 January 2014
Suffolk is to have the regional focus for the Commonwealth Games baton on its journey to this year’s games in Glasgow in the summer.
Baton prepares ground for games
The Commonwealth Games baton has a similar role to the Olympic torch – and carries an official invitation from The Queen to athletes in all Commonwealth countries.
This year’s baton was unveiled in August and was taken to Buckingham Palace in October for The Queen to place her message inside.
It then started its journey around the Commonwealth – the first leg being carried by legendary Scots cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.
It is currently on its way around 71 Commonwealth member states. It will return to Britain in May and will then travel through Northern Ireland and Wales before arriving in England for its two-week journey through the country before spending a month travelling around Scotland before arriving at Glasgow on July 23.
It is the only county in East Anglia to be visited by the baton during a two-week journey around England before crossing the border and heading for its final destination.
Four towns across the county will play host to the baton on June 9 – one of the longest days of the year.
It will start its tour of Suffolk at Britain’s most easterly town, Lowestoft, at breakfast time before heading to the Rowley Mile course at Newmarket for a late morning event.
During the early afternoon it will go to a schools’ sports event at Bury St Edmunds before heading to Ipswich.
In the county town it will visit an athletics event at the Northgate Sports Centre before heading to Christchurch Park for a mass celebration event for all similar to that which greeted the Olympic torch in the town two years ago.
The aim of the relay is to drum up support for Team England at the games which are due to start in Glasgow at the end of July.
Organisers of the Suffolk leg of the relay are delighted it is coming to the county – the nearest other locations it is visiting to this region are London and Leicester.
Commonwealth Games England President Dame Kelly Holmes, who won Commonwealth Gold in Manchester in 2002, said: “Suffolk has a huge sporting tradition and I know that people here will support the English athletes at the Games in July.
“The relay is a great chance to both send your backing to the Team in Glasgow and have a go at some of the sports that will be available at relay events.”
Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health and adult care, said: “The fact that Suffolk has been chosen to host the Queen’s Baton Relay is proof positive of our ability to hold successful major events and celebrate sport.
“This is a great opportunity for Suffolk to show its support for Team England and by inspiring people to play more sport, help Suffolk on its journey to being the most active county in England.”
Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere: “We are very proud as the county town to have been selected to host the Suffolk finale of the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton here in Ipswich.
“This is becoming a tradition in Ipswich, after the huge attendance at the Olympic Torch Relay in 2012, and I am sure there will be a huge turn-out this summer.”
The 2012 torch relay helped to build up the interest in the London games, and it is hoped that the baton relay will have the same effect on Glasgow’s event.
Waveney council leader Colin Law said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Queens Baton Relay is coming to Lowestoft and I really hope we will get a repeat of the amazing scenes we enjoyed during the Olympic Torch relay in 2012.
“The people of the town did us proud that day and more of the same would be wonderful. Having also recently staged a leg of the Tour of Britain, it is clear that Lowestoft is a popular choice for major national events like this and our communities should be really proud of the great impression they give to organisers every time.”
Sara Mildmay White, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet member for sport, said: “I am thrilled that the Queen’s Baton will be coming to the Super 8s athletics competition in Bury St Edmunds, to inspire the town and the borough.
“The message the Baton and the Commonwealth Games bring is relevant to every one of us: joining in and being active benefits you, your community and even your nation.”