CROWDS braved the rain in Blaenau Gwent on Saturday as the Queen’s Baton Relay made its journey around the county.
Hundreds gathered to witness the baton as it travelled through Abertillery, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar throughout the day to celebrate the 20th Commonwealth Games which will be held in Glasgow in July.
Having started its epic journey across 70 nations and territories on October 9 last year, the baton will spend the next seven days exploring some of Wales’ most iconic landmarks.
The baton will spend seven days in Wales, passing through 11 local authorities and covering a distance of approximately 731 miles.
It landed at Cardiff Airport from Northern Ireland and had its first stop in Six Bells in Abertillery where Jo Price, of Aberbeeg Road, was one of the bearers chosen to represent the community.
He said: “It was a fantastic honour to carry the baton. It’s marvellous for Six Bells to get something like this, the whole community has come out to support it.”
The baton was carried to the Guardian which was commissioned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1960 mining disaster in Six Bells which claimed the lives of 45 men. Mr Price was at that time the deputy official at the colliery when the disaster happened.
He said: “This is the former site of the mine it’s all been landscaped over, it’s great that we can have such a event come here to promote sports.”
Luke Rees, 17, a youth ambassador for the Sports Trust Wales also carried the baton at Six Bells.
He said: “It was brilliant, it was extremely rewarding to have been chosen.
“I coach rugby and am part of Street games,it’s extremely rewarding to be able to inspire children to play sports. I was diagnosed with depression when I was in Year 10, my teacher at Brynmawr Comprehensive was the one who got me involved with the youth ambassadors.
“Sports helps encourage the belief that you can achieve things, I don’t know where I would be today if I hadn’t became a youth ambassador. “
Reverend Richard Pain, Bishop of Monmouth read a blessing of the baton at the Guadrian memorial in Six Bells.
The Ebbw Vale Sports Centre held a Street Games bonanza with a variety of entertainments including dance group Topper, gymnastics and performances by the Beaufort Male Voice Choir.
Baroness Jenny Randerson who attended the Ebbw Vale bonanza said: “I think for many this baton relay travelling around Wales means more to us than the Olympics baton, as it was first established after Wales hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1958.
“We are very keen to come out and show our support for the men and women who will be competing in the games.”
More than 200 primary school pupils from across Blaenau Gwent took part in the Asda Active Sports Days which was held at Ebbw Vale Sports Centre to co-incide with the relay. Powered by Sports Leaders UK, the team led activities including badminton and trampoling to encourage healthy lifestyles and children to take up sports.
The baton made its way to Tredegar in the late afternoon where it was held by Malcolm Higgs, 70, who spent 33 years as cricket captain and has run the Tredegar Quiz Wizards which has raised thousands of pounds for local charities.
He said: “It’s an absolute delight to have been chosen. I was born and bred in Tredegar and I am very proud to hold the baton today.”
The baton was in Aberdare today and is set to be at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Bala tomorrow.
For a full report on the baton relay, see tomorrow's South Wales Argus.