A man who has run a minimum of 5k every day for the past 15 years will be among the Batonbearers taking part as the Queen’s Baton Relay comes to County Durham ahead of this year’s Commonwealth Games.
Birmingham 2022 is hosting the 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay – a journey which brings together and celebrates communities across the Commonwealth during the build-up to the Games. Across England, the Queen’s Baton Relay will provide the opportunity for communities to experience the excitement building for the games.
On Thursday 14 July, County Durham will officially welcome the Baton, with 17 Batonbearers ranging in age from 12 to 75 carrying it in two locations, Durham City and Seaham.
Since its inaugural appearance at the Cardiff 1958 Commonwealth Games, the Queen’s Baton Relay has been a tradition for the Commonwealth Games.
Paul Smith, of Sherburn Hill, has done a minimum 5k run every day since January 2007, a feat which has now gone past the 5,600-day mark. Among those to benefit from Paul’s efforts have been St Cuthbert’s Hospice, the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal, Dementia UK and Durham Foodbank.
Paul, who works in community protection for Durham County Council, will be carrying the Baton on the Seaham leg of the relay.
He said: “I was really surprised to be nominated as a Batonbearer and I know it sounds like a cliché but I’m honoured and humbled. I’ll probably be nervous on the day, though I’m excited to take part and I’m sure it’ll be something I’ll remember forever.”
Jessica Eddie, from Durham, was part of the history-making women’s eight boat which picked up silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – Team GB’s first ever medal in the event. She will row the Baton along the River Wear as part of its journey through Durham City.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “The visit of the Queen’s Baton Relay to County Durham will be a special and historic occasion.
“I hope all of the Batonbearers taking part enjoy the day and members of the public take the opportunity to be involved in the celebrations by watching the relay at the locations it is visiting.”
The Queen’s Baton Relay will start at the top of Claypath in Durham City at 3pm, before heading into the Market Place and then visiting Palace Green at Durham Cathedral.
The Baton will then be carried back on to South Bailey and across Prebends Bridge. It will then go via the River Wear where the Baton will be taken by Durham Amateur Rowing Club from the Durham School boat landing to The Racecourse.
Following this, the convoy will travel to Seaham. The procession will start at North Terrace at 5.20pm, heading past the Tommy statue before ending at Vane Tempest Car Park.
Short-term road closures will be in place on the day of the relay visit.
Access to Claypath and Market Place in Durham City for vehicles will be closed from 2.45pm to 3.45pm as the relay takes place. In Seaham, access to North Road will be closed between 4.45pm and 5.45pm.