WITH just days to go until the Queen’s Baton Relay arrives in Blaenau Gwent, Paralympic medallist Mark Colbourne is urging residents to come out to welcome it.
Touching down in Wales at Cardiff Airport on Saturday and coming straight to Tredegar, the Queen’s Baton will be greeted on Saturday by the town's own gold medal hero Mark Colbourne, who won Team GB’s first medal when he took silver in the 1k Time Trial during the 2012 Paralympics.
He then took gold in the 3k Individual pursuit, breaking the world record twice in the process, and completed his hat trick of medals when he took another silver in the Road Race.
After retiring in 2013 he remains an ambassador for disability sport, cycling and Tredegar.
“When Tredegar Town Council asked me to be involved I was thrilled that the Queen's Baton was coming to my home town of Tredegar," he said. "I hope everyone will come out and give the Baton Relay the same support as they have always given me.”
The Baton is on a 190,000km, 288-day trek around the world and Wales will be the 68th nation for it to visit, putting Gwent in particular on the map.
Among the 17 people from Blaenau Gwent who will carry the baton is 82-year-old Joseph Price, a survivor of the 1960 Six Bells pit disaster and former military man from Abertillery.
Others include Ellie Eversfield, 10, head girl at Queen Street Primary School; Bethan Williams; Samantha O’Callaghan; Chloe Williams; Luke Rees; Matthew Berrow; Naomi Jarman; Rachel Whitehouse; James O’Leary; Aled Davies; Sarah Gratton; Malcolm Higgs; Stuart Lane; Gerald Watkins; and Susan Woodward.
Five of the school children who will carry the baton around Bedwellty Park include Lili Morgan, 11, is head girl at Bryn Bach Primary and plays netball for town and county as well as being a swim squad member at Tredegar Torpedoes; Deighton Primary pupil Leon Pugh, 11; Ethan Edwards, age 10, plays football at Sebastopol FC and Cardiff City's development squad and is a Georgetown Primary School pupil; Glanhowy pupil Oliver Caniff; and 11 year old James O’Leary, school council secretary at St Joseph’s RC Primary School.
Executive member for active living at Blaenau Gwent council, Cllr Anita Hobbs said: “It’s tremendous that the Queen’s Baton is coming to Bedwellty Park, Tredegar and who are better ambassadors for the town than these five pupils who are sporting stars of the future.”
Street closures on the day are as follows: Abertillery - Six Bells Road, from the A467 to Chapel Road, Abertillery, 11am-4pm; Ebbw Vale - Lime Avenue, The Works, 2.45pm-3.30pm; Tredegar - Commercial Street to The Promenade, 3pm-7.30pm.
Assembly Member for Blaenau Gwent, Alun Davies, said it was "a real honour" for the borough.
"There was such enthusiasm here when the Olympic Torch came through these valleys and thousands of people lined the street to cheer on the torch bearers," he said. “I’m sure the same enthusiasm and sense of occasion will once again grip our towns and people will join in the celebrations.”