A BRASS BAND, cannon fire and a trip on the trams all helped to mark the arrival of the Queen’s Baton in Edinburgh yesterday as it returned to Scotland after a 248-day journey around the Commonwealth.
The baton’s journey to Scotland’s capital, ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Games next month, began yesterday morning when triple Commonwealth and Olympic gold medallist Daley Thompson passed it to Team Scotland athlete Eilidh Child in Coldstream in the Scottish Borders.
Child, a Team Scotland silver medallist, said: “Today brings the Commonwealth Games that little bit closer, not just for me, but for people right across Scotland.
“I know that it is going to be something special. I can’t wait to run in front of the home crowd at Hampden.”
Making a grand arrival in the city centre via the tram, the baton was carried up the Royal Mile just in time for a 21-gun salute to celebrate the Queen’s Official Birthday.
The District Gunner, Sergeant David Beveridge, who fires the One O’Clock Gun, held the baton as the salute was fired by 105 Regiment Royal Artillery.
He said: “It was a great honour and privilege to hold the baton today. As I marched towards the crowd that’s when you feel it.”
Sgt Beveridge carried the baton to the Castle drawbridge, accompanied by members of the Lowland Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, before passing it on to television presenter Lorraine Kelly, who carried it down the Esplanade accompanied by a brass band, and back out to the Royal Mile.
Speaking after her brief stint as baton carrier, Kelly said: “It was lovely coming down, it was very relaxed and it was nice because there were a lot of kids and they wanted to touch it, and you could stop and let them do that, and let their mums and dads take pictures, which was lovely.
“I was really honoured to be asked. I’m from the East End of Glasgow originally, and it’s been great to see the benefits it has brought to that area.”
Among those who had come to the see the baton’s arrival was Donna Gibson from Hawick, who said: “The baton’s arrival is really exciting, I’ve got tickets for the rhythmic gymnastics, so I’m already really looking forward to them.”
The baton travelled to the Scottish Parliament, where a choir formed from several groups, including Singing 4 Fun with Parkinson’s, Edinburgh Gaelic Choir and Scottish Music Group, sang a specially commissioned song, Here’s To All Our Common Wealth.
The baton’s procession touched on a host of locations in the city throughout the day, including Heriot-Watt University, and 1986 Commonwealth Games venues such as Meadowbank Stadium and the Commonwealth Pool, which will host the diving competitions.
The stadium hosted a fun sports event for hundreds of children who had taken part in the School Run, which was started by former Scotland international rugby captain, Gavin Hastings.
The day culminated last night in a celebratory concert in Princes Street Gardens.
Over the past 248 days the baton has visited 69 nations and territories around the Commonwealth on a 100,000-mile journey ahead of the Games.
For the next 40 days, it will visit more than 400 Scottish communities and be carried by more than 4,000 individuals.
The baton was sent on its way by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 9 October last year, travelling to Glasgow for a civic reception the following day before leaving with a delegation of organisers for Delhi, host of the last Commonwealth Games in 2010.
The baton’s final destination will be the opening ceremony in Glasgow on 23 July where the Queen will read the special message inside the baton.
Glasgow 2014 chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin said: “Today marks a very special moment for the Glasgow 2014 organising committee, and for Scotland as a whole, as the countdown to our biggest-ever sporting and cultural celebration truly begins.”