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Winchester twice celebrated hosting a leg of Queen’s Baton Relay

Winchester’s community twice celebrated hosting a leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay as it passed through the district ahead of the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday 6 July. Two renowned district sporting locations, Winchester Sport & Leisure Park and Broadpenny Down Cricket Ground in Hambledon, were chosen. Both venues welcomed the Baton as it progressed its journey across the nation on its way to Birmingham after a 254-day journey spanning the Commonwealth totalling more than 140,000 kilometres.

Schoolchildren and local residents lined the approach to Winchester Sport & Leisure Park as the Baton was greeted by music from the Roynon Performing Arts Club Swan samba band. Blue Apple Theatre group gave the crowds a performance to remember as the Baton made its way around the University of Winchester’s athletics track.

Everyone Active, in partnership with Winchester City Council and the University of Winchester, organised a Commonwealth Games themed sports festival with over 100 children involved from seven local primary schools – All Saints, Stanmore, Weeke, Winnall, Owslebury, Harestock and St Peters. The children sampled a range of Commonwealth sports with coaches from Winchester and District Athletics Club (WADAC), Hampshire Cricket, Hampshire Squash, Peter Symonds College Rugby Team, and Everyone Active staff delivering a variety of sports sessions. The children then had the opportunity to follow the Baton as it made its way around the athletics track.

Baton bearer Jordan Wylie said:

“What an absolute privilege and an honour to be a part of it, especially with so many children out here as well because for me that’s what it's all about - inspiring the next generation."

Picnickers in the grounds made the most of Sonny Jim’s ice cream van, and a stilt walker from the London Balloon Company entertained the crowds.

The next stop for the Baton was Broadhalfpenny Down Cricket Ground, where it took in tour of the outfield before stopping in at the Bat and Ball pub to be greeted by players and spectators.

Chloe Davanna, Active Communities Manager at Everyone Active, commented:

“It was really special to see the children complete a lap of the track with the Baton – a memory I’m sure they’ll never forget!

“It was also fantastic to see so many children of different abilities enjoying physical activity and getting involved in our commonwealth sport taster sessions.

“We hope that the day encouraged participants to challenge themselves and try something new.”

Cllr Lucille Thompson, Winchester City Council’s Cabinet Member for Business and Culture, attending the Winchester Sport & Leisure Park event, said:

“It was a great pleasure to welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay to Winchester today. This has been a fantastic opportunity for the local community to come together and share in the excitement of this historical moment creating fond memories which will no doubt last a lifetime.

“A huge thank you must go out to everyone who has been involved in this wonderful event, it has been a marvellous success and a great honour for our district to be part of the Queen’s Baton Relay.

“I know my colleagues also enjoyed welcoming the Baton to Hambledon – what a day for our district.”

Helen Thomas, Sports Facilities Development Manager at the University of Winchester added:

“It has been a pleasure to help organise and hold this great community event at The University of Winchester Sports Stadium. Hosting the Commonwealth Games Queens Baton Relay was a huge honour and showcased the fantastic sports facilities that Winchester has to offer. Providing local school children with the opportunity to try some of the Commonwealth Games sports would hopefully have inspired them to potentially be the next generation of sports stars.

“We look forward to working with Everyone Active and Winchester City Council for more community events, and in the meantime The Winchester Sports Stadium remains a community facility and open to all.”

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