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Meet the batonbearers bringing the Commonwealth Games to Great Yarmouth

This Saturday sees the Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton Relay arrive in Great Yarmouth, with a team of batonbearers carrying the baton along the resort's seafront.

Jordan Catchpole

The batonbearers have been nominated for their inspiring stories, and positive contribution to their community through sport, education, the arts, culture, or charity.

The baton relay will arrive at 10am at the Venetian Waterways and be welcomed by the Mayor, before being carried through the gorgeously restored canals and gardens and onto the seafront.

From there it will be carried along the Golden Mile by a succession of batonbearers taking in Joyland children's amusements and the new £26m Marina Centre swimming pool and sports complex before finishing at the Sealife Centre around 10.45am.

The public are invited to come along and cheer the batonbearers along the route - we caught up with some of those taking part.

Jordan Catchpole
Jordan Catchpole

Jordan is a 23-year-old British Paralympic swimmer from Beccles. He is a rising star having won medals at his debut World and European Championships. He won gold in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay S14 at the 2020 Summer Paralympics.

"It was a complete surprise I had been selected as a batonbearer. I had been nominated by my national governing body, in recognition of my contribution to sport. It's really special to be a batonbearer as well as competing in the Games where will be competing in the S14 (intellectual impairment) 200 freestyle. 

"I'm looking forward to carrying the baton to represent the para-swimming team at the games, and to be part of the relay is an honour.

"I have a lot of great childhood memories of Great Yarmouth, like my grandparents bringing me to the beach, and family days out at the amusements and Pleasure Beach. 

"I will be proud to have anyone cheering me on, but my parents and grandma will be there cheering."

Rebecca Wicks
Rebecca Wicks

Rebecca is a 44-year-old headteacher of a complex needs school from Norwich. Last year she raised over £250,000 to improve facilities at school, as well as £5000 for a local food bank charity along with her students. Her passion for running was interrupted by the pandemic but until then she was taking part in over 100 races a year from 5k to marathons.

"I was nominated to be a baton bearer through my work at a complex needs school and working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to provide some of Norfolk's most vulnerable, disadvantaged and medically complex pupils' continuity of education. We only closed our doors for around 20 days throughout the whole two years. This nomination is to recognise the hard work of my whole staff team who worked tirelessly, not just me.  

"I am most looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere of the day and being able to celebrate that the world is starting to feel more normal for us all again. I am hoping that the sun will shine and that there will be lots of people along the seafront to cheer everyone on.

"I have lots of lovely nostalgic memories of Great Yarmouth. Born and bred in Norfolk, Great Yarmouth means summer holidays and long days of sunshine playing on the beach. As a child we loved visiting the Marina Centre - particularly when the wave machine came on!  

"To me Great Yarmouth means fish and chips, riding on the Joyland snails, petting the donkeys and eating ice creams. As an adult, it now means taking part in the five mile running series (and gaining beautiful medals), bringing pupils for trips due to Great Yarmouth being really accessible for wheelchair users, and bringing my nieces to do all those things that I enjoyed as a child."

Ricky Hawkins
Ricky Hawkins

Ricky is a 31-year-old teacher from Norwich, who is also active in motorsport's LGBTQ+ community. As a Post Chief race marshal, he is a Racing Pride ambassador and is also part of the Motorsport UK Equality and Diversity Committee.

"When I received a nomination to be part of the Queen's Baton Relay, I didn't quite believe it. I accepted my nomination to carry the Queen's Baton because my work pushing for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusivity within motorsport, and my everyday life working in a school was being recognised. Being part of this iconic event fills me with an enormous sense of pride to inspire others.

"It is difficult to pick just one thing I am looking forward to. However, I think the general atmosphere and being part of such an iconic event will be incredible. It is a real honour, and it's not every day that you get to carry the Queen's Baton during her Platinum Jubilee year!

"Great Yarmouth to me, is a great family holiday destination. There is always a wide range of activities to choose from whether it be entertainment and amusements, to playing a round of crazy golf - there is something for everyone.

"I will be proud to be cheered on by my fiancé, my parents, and other family and friends. It is going to be an amazing day!"

Melissa Ross
Melissa Ross

Melissa is a 31-year-old mother from Great Yarmouth. At 24 she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour on her brainstem, which had an irreversible impact on her mobility. She lives with chronic pain, meaning she is unable to work but inspires the followers of her beauty and make-up blog. She and her family raise awareness and funds for the charity Brain Tumour Research

"I was nominated by Brain Tumour Research to be a batonbearer. I want to do all I can to help raise more awareness of this disease that I and so many are living with.

"I'm looking forward to the whole experience! It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and I feel so honoured to be a part of it. I will be most proud to have my family and friends there as they have been my biggest support through everything.

"Our whole family is really into sports and we always watch things like the Olympic Games so I'm sure we'll be watching parts of this year's Commonwealth Games too, especially after the excitement of being involved in the relay."

Sophie McKinna

Sophie is a 28-year-old athlete from Great Yarmouth, who won gold in the shot put at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games and was placed fifth at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

"This will be my third Commonwealth games which I am very excited for as it is a home games. I was nominated by England Athletics and to be selected to carry the baton through my hometown is very special to me. 

"I am very much looking forward to having my family and friends support me carrying the baton and also the support of the town. Having the baton in Great Yarmouth is a huge honour. 

"All of my family will be in attendance so I'm sure they will be very proud.

"I am Great Yarmouth born and bred so am very excited to have this opportunity. Great Yarmouth is very special to me as it is where I started my athletics career.

"The town has always been very supporting of my sporting achievements and I am very happy to be once again representing my town and country at the upcoming games."

Last modified on 19 July 2023

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