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A showcase for the borough as Queen's Baton Relay comes to Sandwell

A borough came together to celebrate a day of hosting the Queen’s Baton Relay.

Marcus Galli jogs along the course with members of West Midlands Police
Marcus Galli jogs along the course with members of West Midlands Police

The six towns of Sandwell were alive with sound, colour and a celebratory feel as baton-bearers from across the borough took to the streets to take their turn carrying the baton.

Nathan Maguire wheels the baton around as part of the relay

It was a huge day for the borough, which was the only place apart from Birmingham to have the baton for an entire day.

The relay also helped to scope how people across the borough were feeling ahead of the Games, with Sandwell a focal point for the event through the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, which will host swimming and diving events.

Liam Sheridan takes a run with the baton in Oldbury

It was an early start for the relay, with the first baton-bearer Parveen Kaur cheered on by members of Sandwell Council, including the Mayor of Sandwell Councillor Richard Jones, as she received the baton at 8am.

She said it had been a wonderful experience and hoped it could inspire other people.

She said: “It was incredible to be part of this today and a real honour to be the first person to carry it.

“I do hope it can inspire people to know that they can do it if they really want to and I want to wish all the other baton-bearers best of luck today. Enjoy the moment.”

SANDWELL COPYRIGHT MNA MEDIA TIM THURSFIELD 25/07/22.Baton relay around Sandwell area..Parveen Kaur with the baton..

The route along Oldbury ended with a reception outside Sandwell Council House, with a large crowd joining baton-bearers and Games mascot Perry the Bull.

Perry the Bull leads the celebrations in Oldbury

Sandwell Council Leader Kerrie Carmichael said she was super excited for the day and spoke about her pride at the borough hosting the event for a full day.

She said: “I’ve had loads of people contact me wanting to come out today and ask about tickets and I know we’re going to have hundreds of people attending these events.

“I’m hopeful that people will come along and see what a wonderful borough we are, as we’ve got so much to be proud of, with OIdbury, Brunswick Park, Haden Hill and all the lovely parks we’ve got.

“I’m so pleased for all the baton-bearers as well as they are all brilliant people and have achieved so much to be here today, so it’s all absolutely brilliant.”

Owen and Suzy Richards pose with the baton after their stints carrying it

Brunswick Park in Wednesbury was the setting for the next stage of the relay, with people lining the path to cheer on the baton-bearers, which included charity fundraising mother and son Suzy and Owen Richards.

There was a touching moment on the relay as Suzy passed the baton to her son, who then ran the baton to thunderous cheers and applause as he stood the baton on the stage.

Both Suzy and Owen said the experience had been emotional and said it was great to do it in memory of those that they had lost.

Suzy Richards celebrates her spell as baton bearer in Wednesbury

Suzy said: "I'm shattered and got through it all on adrenaline, but I am just buzzing as it was such a lovely morning, with friends and family on the course and it was great to see Owen finish the relay by running to the stage."

There was a huge reception for Owen Richards in Brunswick Park as he brought the baton home

Owen said: "It's such an honour and an amazing achievement for the charity as well, as well as nice to do it in memory of Joel and my uncle and grandad, who we wish were still here, but know they would be hugely proud of us."

The baton was available for people to pose with and get photos of

The crowds were also large for events at Victoria Park in Tipton and at Haden Hill House and Park, with a range of entertainment at each venue and a feeling of fun and anticipation in the air.

Molly Jenner Flukes enjoys her spell carrying the baton

The Mayor of Sandwell Councillor Richard Jones was in attendance at each event and said it was amazing to see so many people out at each venue.

He said: "The day has been amazing and I didn't know what to expect, but there have been so many people across all the places that we've been to, with more than 1,000 at Haden Hill.

"It's been really inclusive as well as you've seen old and young people and the whole day has been so much fun and the people doing the relay have all been amazing."

Dignitaries and baton bearers take in the acclaim of the crowd at Haden Hill House

The relay was an occasion for families as well, with parents bringing their children out to see the baton, embracing the once-in-a-lifetime spirit of the event.

Julie Andrews from Cradley Heath said: "It's brilliant and really great for the whole community and for Sandwell and it was just a great experience for my son to see what was going on today."

Melissa Pardoe from Wombourne said: "I'm taking my children Reuben and Evelyn to the Games and we've excited to be out to wave flags and cheer the baton-bearers on."

There were huge crowds throughout the relay course

After a journey to Lightwoods Park in Smethwick, the baton was taken on an abseil at Smethwick Galton Bridge, before a barge ride into West Bromwich and a final run down through the town to Sandwell Valley Country Park and a massive celebration event.

Marcus Galli jogs along the course with members of West Midlands Police

Charity marathon runner Blind Dave Heeley carried the baton in West Bromwich and said the baton relay has been a great way of showcasing the whole of Sandwell.

Leon Rowe was an enthusiastic participant in the relay

He said: "It's a real celebration and the fact that Sandwell is one of only two places in the whole country to have it for a whole day says something.

"It's going to highlight all six towns, as well as a lot of wonderful people, and the baton-bearers have been walking, running, crawling and wheeling around with a huge smile on their faces, so it's a wonderful and upbeat event."

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