THE Queen’s Baton will return to Scotland today after a 248-day journey around the Commonwealth as the final countdown to the Glasgow 2014 games begins.
Triple Commonwealth gold medallist Daley Thompson will pass it across the border to Team Scotland athlete Eilidh Child in the town of Coldstream in the Borders.
The baton will arrive along the River Tweed in a traditional fishing boat rowed by adventurer and broadcaster Mark Beaumont, with local ghillie Brendan Loughand also on board.
It will be welcomed to Scotland by a guard of honour of local children, holding flags of the Commonwealth, along the Coldstream bridge, while BBC young traditional musician of the year Robyn Stapleton will perform “Here’s to our Common Wealth”, a specially-commissioned song for the Queen’s Baton Relay.
The Coldstream Pipe Band will also participate in the celebrations.
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 batonbearers, who are being recognised for their inspiration, hard work and impact on the lives of others.
Eilidh Child, Team Scotland silver medallist, said: “I am truly honoured to be the first batonbearer in Scotland, it’s such an iconic moment and one that I’m really looking forward to.
“I love representing my country and the silver medal I won in Delhi was my first major medal, an amazing thing to do whilst wearing a Scottish vest.
“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.”
The baton was sent on its way by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on October 9 last year, travelling to Glasgow for a civic reception the following day before leaving with a delegation of organisers for Delhi, hosts of the last Commonwealth Games in 2010.
Daley Thompson, who represented England, said he felt “honoured” to be carrying the baton into Scotland.
The baton’s final destination will be the opening ceremony in Glasgow on July 23 where the Queen will read the special message contained inside the baton.
After the celebrations in Coldstream, it will travel to Edinburgh to visit locations including Heriot Watt University,1986 Commonwealth Games venues such as Meadowbank Stadium and the Royal Commonwealth Pool, which will host the diving competitions, and will also board a tram.
It will visit Edinburgh Castle for the 21-gun salute to mark the Queen’s official birthday and the Scottish Parliament, where it will be welcomed by Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick and Scottish rugby legend Gavin Hastings.
The day will culminate with a celebratory concert in Princes Street Gardens.
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.
“Over the next 40 days thousands of people across Scotland can share the building excitement of our moment in history as we all get set to welcome the world to Scotland for what we all aim to be the best Commonwealth Games ever.”
For the first time in the history of any relay, all 545 secondary schools in Scotland were invited to nominate a pupil to participate as a batonbearer.
Michael Cavanagh, chairman for Commonwealth Games Scotland, said: “The first day of the Queen’s Baton Relay signifies the final countdown to the Games, and when it is handed from England to Scotland we will begin our final journey to Glasgow.
“The relay is an opportunity for people across the country to get out and show their support for the Games and for Team Scotland, and we are very proud to be a part of it.”
During its journey around Scotland the baton will pass landmarks including the Forth Road Bridge, Gleneagles and Linlithgow Palace.
Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “It is now time to welcome the baton home and raise the levels of excitement in Scotland to fever pitch for what will be a truly spectacular year.”