LOVE may not have been in the air this Valentine’s Day, but community pride certainly was as the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay made its way through Bendigo.
The relay brought Bendigo’s CBD to a relative standstill on Wednesday, with streets shut down to allow the 20 batonbearers and the hundreds-of-metres-long convoy to pass through Bendigo.
It all started at Camp Hill Primary School with an assembly, where a young student named Luke had the ultimate show and tell moment.
He had the honour receiving the baton and modelling it to his schoolmates – some sort of show and tell.
He handed it to Glenn Woodhatch, a team manager for the Australian Clay Target Shooting team at the 1998 games, and the relay was away.
Woodhatch brought it onto View Street and handed it to Brad Orton, who had the “great privilege” of carrying the baton to a civic welcome in Rosiland Park.
There, mayor Margaret O’Rourke welcomed the baton and it was handed to Dennis O’Hoy OAM, who took it on a tram ride down the iconic Pall Mall.
Russell Jack then accepted the baton his beloved Golden Dragon Museum. Mr Jack also carried the Olympic torch prior to the 2000 Sydney games.
“Even though I did that, this is still a real thrill,” he said.
Eddie Barkla, who regular Weekly readers will be familiar with, was next.
Mr Barkla’s work, especially his ability to bond the local cycling community, is spoken highly of, and he has a connection to the games through Cycling Australia national track coach Tim Decker.
“They wouldn’t let me ride the bike though,” he said.
“It’s just such a great show of community pride. That’s the great part of it, for all of the baton bearers. We do what we do for the community.”
Awaiting the baton from Mr Barkla was Leslie Trimble, who had family down from Queensland to watch his moment in the spotlight.
He passed it to Kaye Trimble – and no, the pair are not related.
“I am related to Ellyse (Roper) though, who is a distant cousin, so we’ve got a bit of a celebration worked out,” Kaye said.
Roper was the youngest of the baton bearers and was taken aback by the depth of contribution to the community of her older colleagues.
“I was getting some of the stories while we were on the bus, what so many of them have done is amazing. It was a bit overwhelming really,” she said.
From there the baton was handed to Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival founder Colin Thompson, Joel Bertoncini, Dennis Nihill, and John Stancombe.
As it headed toward its end destination at Lake Weeroona, Nathan Rogers, Arj Perera, Lynn Walker, Gary Warnest, Andrew Barling, Laurie Preston and Martin Mark all carried the baton and the Queen’s message for the games along the city streets.
And though the baton departed the city en route to the games, the pride won’t leave those who carried it any time soon.
“I think there will definitely be a bit more of that pride when I’m watching the games,” Mr Nihill said.
“It’s very special to be involved.”
– Joel Peterson