With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games just weeks away, two local venues – Rudyard Lake and the Pump Track at Newchapel – are getting ready to host the iconic Queen’s Baton Relay.
The relay is travelling the length and breadth of England for 29 days before culminating in the opening ceremony for Birmingham 2022 on 28th July, and its route includes aquatic stretches, across Rudyard Lake and in the Trent and Mersey Canal.
The public is being encouraged to get involved with the celebrations and “embrace the arrival” of the baton by taking the opportunity to experience the buzz of Birmingham 2022 in their own communities.
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council is working with partners, including Staffordshire Police, to provide opportunities for people to line the streets and cheer it on when the relay arrives in the area on Tuesday, 19th July.
A programme of fun, family events is being planned so everyone can enjoy the spectacle, including two public events to which everyone is invited.
Newcastle-under-Lyme council has also planned a busy schedule of activities and events are planned, with opportunities to highlight “untold stories” from baton-bearers who are working for change in their communities.
The baton’s first visit will be to Keele University and children from around 10 primary schools will visit the sports facilities on campus, where year five and six children will take part across different sporting activities in an informal multi-sport competition, celebrating the spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship embodied by the games.
The other locations that the baton will visit in Newcastle are the Belong Heritage Gallery, Harecastle Tunnel and Trent and Mersey Canal in Kidsgrove, and the Pump Track at Newchapel.
Staffordshire Moorlands leader Coun Paul Roberts said: “We are thrilled and excited to be welcoming the relay and we’re working hard to make sure the occasion is one that we can all enjoy and that will live long in our memories.
“The Moorlands is a beautiful part of the country and we’ll be showcasing this to a wider audience which will, in turn, have a positive impact on our local economy both on the day itself and afterwards as people come and visit our local shops and hospitality businesses.
“It’s a unique event, which is exactly the boost we need post-pandemic and I’m looking forward to seeing Leek full of people coming out to support both the baton-bearers and our local businesses.”
Rudyard Lake welcomes the arrival of the relay after 5pm. At around 5.30pm, a flotilla of boats from Rudyard rowing and sailing clubs will accompany the baton-bearer on the journey across the water.
Children from St Michael’s Primary School, Horton, will celebrate the spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship embodied by the games when they perform a song from the Jungle Book in honour of Rudyard Kipling, who was named after the reservoir.
Events then move to Leek where four baton-bearers will take part in the hand relay through the town centre at around 6.30pm. The baton-bearers were chosen in recognition of their contributions to the local community in the fields of sport, education, the arts, culture or charity.
The final Moorlands stop for the baton will be at Alton Towers, where local residents will see it take the ride of its life on a rollercoaster.
Mike Huss, operations and active lifestyles manager at Keele said: “It is with great pleasure that we welcome so many young people to Keele University Sports Centre to help us celebrate the Queen’s baton passing though Newcastle. We hope the event inspires future generations of sporting talent in the local area.”
For the events in Kidsgrove, members of the Harecastle Tunnel and Trent and Mersey Canal, Canal and River Trust have organised another watery adventure for the baton, as it is carried on a narrowboat along the canal. This will be followed by a themed programme of activities with local schools and members of the community.
The final visit for the baton will be to Newchapel Pump Track, where local schoolchildren and members of the local community will take part in cycling and sports events.
On Monday, 11th July the baton is in Buxton.
For more details on Rudyard, including where to watch the relay, visit staffsmoorlands.gov.uk/qbr or birmingham2022.com.
The baton carries a message from the head of the Commonwealth, currently Queen Elizabeth II. The relay begins at Buckingham Palace in London, when the Queen entrusts the baton to the first relay runner. At the opening ceremony of the games, the final relay runner hands the baton back to the Queen or her representative, who reads the message aloud to officially open the games.