SOUTHAMPTON has been chosen as a host city for the Queen's Baton Relay during its two week nation-wide tour as part of the build up for the Commonwealth Games.
The baton will reach the city on June 4 as part of its journey across England ahead of the games in Glasgow in July.
The baton will spend the day in Southampton and will visit a number of locations across the city to celebrate the Commonwealth Games and promote participation in sport. The day will culminate in what is being described as a 'spectacular' event in Guildhall Square.
Although details of the day's events are being kept under wraps until they are finalised, city leaders have said they are confident Southampton will put on a show to be proud of.
Councillor Simon Letts, leader, Southampton City Council said, “We're thrilled that our bid was successful and we'll be welcoming the Queen's Baton on the 4th of June in this our 50th year of city status.
“We are working with Cunard, Active Nation and Solent University and, although we can't share the details of what we have planned for the day just yet, I can say that there's going to be some spectacular sights. Get the date in your diary now! “Southampton has some excellent sporting facilities and world class sporting heritage and I know that the city is going to really get behind Team England during the Commonwealth Games.”
Organisers are hoping to replicate the scenes of 2012 when the city hosted the Olympic torch visit. Thousands of people packed Mayflower Park to see one of the many beacons being lit before crowds were entertained with a set by Wretch 32, the Rock Choir and the Art Asia drumming band.
They are hoping to capitalise on that spirit and use the visit of the baton to promote sport and well-being throughout Southampton.
Local sporting heroes will also be involved in the relay as a number of 'batonbearers' will be chosen from the local community to carry the baton on part of its journey through the city.
More details on how those people will be chosen and a timetable of the celebrations themselves are set to be released in the Spring.
The Queen's Baton Relay is the traditional curtain-raiser to the (twentieth) XX Commonwealth Games.
By the time of its arrival in England the baton will have visited 68 nations and territories and covered almost a third of the world's population.
The baton contains a message from the Queen to the Commonwealth that will be read out at the Opening Ceremony of the Glasgow Games.
Commonwealth Games England President Dame Kelly Holmes who won Commonwealth Gold in Manchester in 2002 said: “Southampton has a huge sporting tradition and I know that public here will support the English athletes at the Games in July. The QBR is a great chance to both send your backing to the Team in Glasgow and have a go at some of the sports that will be available at QBR events.
”On its journey across England the baton will being the English leg of its international journey visiting Manchester on Saturday May 31 then travelling to Cheshire before making its way to Sheffield, Birmingham, Plymouth and Bristol and then Southampton on June 4 before going onto Kent, Oxford and then London.