Express & Star

Queen's Baton Relay brings cheer to Lichfield, Burntwood and Chasewater

The colour and pageantry of the Queen's Baton Relay was brought to people in a range of places across Staffordshire.

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Wakeboarder Sebastian Kerns carries the baton on Chasewater

After coming into country on Tuesday, when it travelled from Shropshire, to Stafford and Stone, the relay kicked into gear with a journey through the eastern areas of the county on Wednesday, with trips to areas of reflection, historic city centres and places of natural beauty.

Hundreds of people came out to see the baton and cheer on the baton-bearers as the relay travelled across the National Memorial Arboretum, Lichfield, Burntwood, Chasetown and Chasewater Country Park.

Wakeboarder Sebastian Kerns gets acrobatic

The National Memorial Arboretum, in Alrewas, was one of the showpiece locations for the relay, with nine baton-bearers taking the baton on a route around the 150-acre site.

Major Naveed Muhammed MBE took the baton up to the Armed Forces Memorial at the centre of the Arboretum and said it was a humbling experience to be a baton-bearer.

He said: "I've been really excited about today and I've had a chance to meet some of the other baton-bearers and we're all equally full of energy.

Baton-bearers Major Naveed Muhammed MBE and Jan Appleton at the National Memorial Arboretum
Baton-bearer Sukhi Kaur at the National Memorial Arboretum
The relay at the National Memorial Arboretum

"It's a great opportunity to play our part in what is an equally important opportunity for the country and Commonwealth and being able to do it here at the Arboretum is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"My wife and daughter has been here today and I know they were looking forward to it as much as I was."

At the visitor centre, members of the public had come to get a seat to watch the start of the relay, with Carol Penman, from Alrewas, saying she had been looking forward to seeing it.

Baton-bearer Emma Hill and Angela Burns in Lichfield
Baton-bearer Angela Burns outside Lichfield Cathedral
Jane Cooke carries the baton in Lichfield

She said: "It's really great to be able to see the baton as it was made in this area and it's going to be really good to see it go by the main memorials here.

"This is a special place for anyone who lost someone in conflict and it's wonderful to see the baton coming here and the Arboretum being represented in the Commonwealth Games."

Lucy Wilkinson had come to the Arboretum with her children Liam and Sophie from Burton-upon-Trent, and said she hadn't realised the relay was taking place there, but was delighted to see it.

Crowds in Lichfield for the relay
Baton-bearer Dave Subodh in Lichfield
Baton-bearers Emma Hill and Andy Harper in Lichfield

She said: "It's fantastic to know it's here, even though we're seeing it by accident, but there's so much history here and I'm glad to see the baton coming here."

Local fundraiser Sebbie Hall was the person to bring the baton back to the centre, where a ceremony of remembrance took place at 11am.

His mother Ashley, who also took part in the relay, said it has been a wonderful honour to see her son be part of the relay.

Young flag waver
Baton-bearer Jane Dayus-Hinch in Lichfield
Baton-bearer Hannah Simnett, from Sutton Coldfield, in Lichfield

She said: "It's just once in a lifetime and it's been the most amazing day, so organised and we've felt so special all day.

"Seeing Sebbie be the last baton-bearer here has been incredible and so nice because he has done so much for people over the last few years and it's great to know he's part of the Games."

After leaving Alrewas, the baton journeyed down the A38 to Lichfield, where it was met by crowds lining the streets, as well as taking a trip to the historic Lichfield Cathedral.

Stephen Sutton's mum Jane is emotional as she carries the baton through Burntwood
Millie Oliver carries the baton through Chasetown
Isaac Evans with the baton

Following that, it was carried through Burntwood and Chasetown before taking a trip on the water at Chasewater Country Park.

Mental health leader Stuart Bratt was part of the relay in Burntwood and said he hadn't followed the relay route as he wanted to have the feeling on the day.

He said: "I was really excited about doing it and didn't keep track of it as I just wanted to turn off and enjoy the day however it comes.

Cheers for the Queen's Baton Relay
Former Dudley mayor Steve Waltho and Dennis Ffrench with the baton in Chasetown
Getting a good view of the baton relay in Lichfield

"It's amazing to be part of it and I said it's 219 yards of fame and a part of history that probably will never come to this area again.

A big celebration event was held at the park, featuring opportunities to try new sports and enjoy a cold drink by the water, and saw a large crowd turn out to see the relay.

Robert Law came with his wife, Heather, to watch the relay and said it made him feel like the Games were beginning.

Baton-bearer Sebbie Hall, from Lichfield, at the National Memorial Arboretum
Baton-bearer Jasmine Brittan, from Burton, at the National Memorial Arboretum
Callum Chadwick was first to carry the baton at the National Memorial Arboretum

He said: "This is the start as far as we're concerned, seeing the baton being exchanged and it's great to be here in a beautiful setting to see it.

"Chasewater is a hidden gem and great to come to, especially seeing deer, and I love the fact that the relay is here as it brings it closer to the Commonwealth Games."

The baton was taken around the park and then handed to wakeboarder Sebastian Kerns, who rode the board several times around the lake with the baton strapped to his arm.

Callum Chadwick was first to carry the baton at the National Memorial Arboretum
Crowds at the National Memorial Arboretum
Crowds in Lichfield for the relay

Among the baton-bearers at the park were Midlands Langar Seva Society members Parnjit Bahyia and Sharon Heer, who both spoke of their pride of being involved.

Parnjit said: "I'm really proud to be representing the society as a baton-bearer and to be part of this amazing event is such a privilege."

Sharon said: "I was very surprised when I got nominated and I'm very overwhelmed, but also very proud to be part of this and part of the Commonwealth Games."

Baton-bearer Hannah Simnett, from Sutton Coldfield, in Lichfield
Baton-bearers Sebbie Hall and mum Ashley Hall, from Lichfield, at the National Memorial Arboretum
Baton-bearer Sebbie Hall, from Lichfield, at the National Memorial Arboretum