Queen’s Baton Relay celebration on Arran

Former First Minister Lord McConnell who hands over the baton to Team Scotland badminton player Eleanor O'Donnelly who will carry it to the waiting crowd at the Ormidale Park.

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Words and photos by Hugh Boag

The Queen’s Baton Relay swept over to Arran in some style last Sunday.

It arrived on the island during a five-day tour of Scotland on its way to the Commonwealth Games starting in Birmingham at the end of July.

A large crowd was at the Ormidale Park in Brodick to see the baton being carried by Team Scotland badminton player Eleanor O’Donnell.

The 23-year-old from Beith will be representing Scotland for the second time at the Commonwealth Games after competing at the Gold Coast games in Australia in 2018.

The baton with a huge entourage from Team Scotland and both Scottish and English police officers, including some from Birmingham, had arrived on Arran from the mainland on the Claonaig to Lochranza ferry having been in Inverness the previous day.

After visiting Lochranza distillery the five-vehicle convoy – complete with police outriders – made its way south arriving in Brodick a little later than planned.

The afternoon event included a fete-style celebration with a carousel of sports, games and information stalls being provided by local clubs and partners from across North Ayrshire but with a particular focus on Arran.

It was organised by North Ayrshire Council, in partnership with KA Leisure, Commonwealth Games Scotland and Team Scotland to reflect the important role of sport and encourage everyone to get behind Team Scotland.

After a photocall at Brodick beach, the baton was formally handed over to Eleanor by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and walked the short distance to the Ormidale Park.

The crowd waving their Commonwealth Games flags lined up in two lines to welcome the baton as Clyde, the Team Scotland mascot, entertained.

The baton, which carries a message from HM The Queen, was then presented to a group of remarkable individuals who have made a difference to the lives of others in their communities.

They included welcome recognition of Co-op manager Liz Mclean for all her work for the community during the pandemic.

Others presented with the baton were Mark Nelson for his 23 years of work with the RNLI and Eilidh Kincaid, a sixth year Arran High School pupil from Whiting Bay along with Abby Anderson and Robyn Caldwell from Kilbirnie and Mark Preston from Kilwinning for their sports coaching.

Others recognised were; Hollie Tattersfield, a long-time member of staff of Arran Youth Foundations and Kenny Morrison who runs the Ormidale Park almost single-handed on a voluntary basis.

Also presented with the baton were North Ayrshire provost Anthea Dickson, Councillor Timothy Billings and Dr Audrey Sutton, executive director of communities and education.

With the aim of raising the profile of the games, the unique relay tradition offers people across the country the rare chance to be part of the excitement and the Commonwealth celebrations.

After leaving Arran the baton travelled to New Cumnock, Glasgow, Bo’ness, Edinburgh, the Borders and Dumfries.

The baton will then be carried around Northern Ireland, Wales and England, finishing at the Birmingham 2022 opening ceremony on July 28, where it will be presented to The Queen.