A special ‘royal’ relay has come through the Moorlands on its way to this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The Queen’s Baton Relay has travelled the length and breadth of England for a total of 29 days before culminating at the Opening Ceremony for Birmingham 2022 tomorrow (Thursday, July 28).
A special ‘royal’ relay has come through the Moorlands on its way to this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The Queen’s Baton Relay has travelled the length and breadth of England for a total of 29 days before culminating at the Opening Ceremony for Birmingham 2022 tomorrow (Thursday, July 28).
During its visit to the Staffordshire Moorlands last Tuesday (July 19), the Baton began it’s journey at the scenic spot of Rudyard Lake, making it’s way down the lake on a boat before being carried along by the Dam Head.
The Baton also made a trip up to the Roaches before heading into Leek where it was taken on a four person relay around the Moorlands town centre, ending in the Market Place for a warm welcome by crowds as the Young Pheonix Singers performed.
The baton then headed off to Alton Towers to have a ride on one of the resort’s rollercoasters.
The Batonbearers for the Leek part of the relay were: Gavin Yarwood from Leek, Jack Shephard from Sheffield, Lee Royall from Staffordshire, and Kate Jayden from Alstonefield.
Others who took the same honour for other parts of the Staffordshire Moorlands relay were: Patience Lamb from Stoke-on-Trent, Hayley Jane Martin from Congleton, Josephine Locke from Stoke-on-Trent, and Elliott Lancaster from Newcastle-under-Lyme
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) helped organise the Queen’s Baton Relay visit to the Moorlands.
Leader of SMDC, councillor Paul Roberts, said: “What an honour it was to host the Queen’s Baton Relay in four different locations throughout the Moorlands.
“Staffordshire Moorlands is a beautiful part of the country and it was fantastic to see so many people out and about taking part in the events.”
Cllr Roberts added: “We would like to say a huge thank-you to the Batonbearers who are an inspiration.
“Being more active and spending time outdoors is great for our physical and mental health and the example set by them inspires more and more people every day to get outdoors.
“And a special thanks to all our partners who helped us to organise all the events in the Moorlands and make them something to remember.”
“A day that I’ll never forget”
Former Leek High School student Gavin Yarwood said he was very honoured to have been a Batonbearer in his hometown of Leek.
The para-athlete, who has relied on a wheelchair for mobility since an accident in Greece in 1999, even set himself the challenge to walk outside in the streets of his hometown for his role in the relay – the first time in 14 years.
Gavin said last week: “It was something I was determined to do today.
“I feel so honoured and emotional about having taken part in this today.”
We caught up with Gavin this week to chat further about him taking part in the special event.
We first asked him if he had perhaps been nervous in taking part, in particular with the walking challenge he had set himself. He said: “I was excited mainly. But as it got closer, I felt a growing sense of responsibility.
“I realised what a big thing it was, and didn’t want to let anyone down.
“I didn’t actually realise or think about the 14 years of no walking, until I got to the very end of the relay. It was quite an emotional moment.”
We asked if he perhaps felt, at any point, that he could not go ahead with his walking challenge. He said: “Briefly yes. I couldn’t control my leg. I don’t know if it was nerves, or my body just having a bad moment, but I was worried.
“Luckily, with the help of my friend Morris, and the baton team, I managed to get to my feet and achieve my goal. They were all so lovely with me.”
As for when he was handed the Baton itself, he said: “It felt amazing. It was such an honour.”
As for the reception in town on the day and all the media attention, Gavin said: “Well that was bizarre, and not just from the photographers. I did two interviews after all the photographs were taken.
“And the support on the streets was crazy. I’ve never seen anything like that in Leek.
“The way people lined the streets and cheered was so overwhelming.
“I’ll never forget it. It was so special.”
It had been Gavin’s girlfriend Becky Hunt who had nominated him to be a Batonbearer.
Not only for his multitude of par-athlete achievements – including in shot out – but also because he had gone above and beyond to raise cash for the NHS recently.
Gavin sent out this message to Becky: “I love you Becky, thank you so much for this.
“You have given me a day that I’ll never forget.”
As for being the only Batonebearer to live in the town, Gavin said: “I felt like I was representing the town. It was a huge honour.
“I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported and congratulated me over the last week. The messages I’ve received, and the things that have been said to me have been so nice.
“Cheers folks, I love you all.”
Regarding the organisation of the Queen’s Baton Relay visit to Leek, Gavin said: “It really was well-organised. I honestly had no idea it would be anywhere near as big a deal as it was.
“It must have taken a lot of effort to put together. The organisation was fantastic.”
Moving forward, regarding his para-athlete career, Gavin told us: “I’m currently just training. I’ve had a lengthy lay off due to the pandemic, and an injury prior to that.
“I’ll probably get back to competing next season. I want to improve on what I’ve previously done.
“And the eventual aim is to become a Paralympian.”
See more pictures from the Queen’s Baton Relay’s visit to the Staffordshire Moorlands on pages 16 and 17 in this week’s Leek & Moorlands Echo.
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