Queen’s Baton Relay to cross UK’s longest river by dragon boat in Worcester – with help from Paralympic medallist
As the Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton Relay returned to England this week, Worcester is preparing to offer one of the most memorable sights of the 25-day event.
When The Queen's Baton arrives in the city on Friday 22 July it will cross the river Severn on a striking dragon boat, propelled by the city's renowned Worcester Dragon Boat Racing Club.
And to make the moment even more memorable, the Batonbearer for the journey across the UK's longest river will be swimmer Rebecca Redfern, Paralympic silver medal winner.
The Club's paddlers will transport Batonbearer Rebecca and the Queen's Baton itself from King's Boathouse in Severn Street, on the eastern side of the Severn, to the city's swan sanctuary on the west.
The striking sight of the Dragon Boat's voyage will look especially memorable from the famous Worcester Bridge, which overlooks its course, giving watching crowds a moment to treasure.
Nigel Leigh - lead coach for Worcester Dragon Boat Racing Club, said: "Worcester Dragon Boat Racing Club is honoured to be chosen to transport the Baton in the faithful city of Worcester. The club has been active on the River Severn for more than 30 years and has introduced thousands of people across the city and beyond to our unique team sport.
"Dragon boat paddling and racing reflects all of the qualities and dedication represented by those selected to carry the Queen's Baton. Hundreds of individuals taking responsibility for their leg of the relay, each one dependent on those carrying before and after them, every link equally important. Dragon boat performance is directly related to the timing and rhythm of identical paddle strokes from each of the crew, commanded from the drum, directed by the helm, teamwork at its best.
"The dragon boat family extends across the world and provides opportunities from social paddling through to elite international competitions, a sporting journey similar to the path taken by the Baton carrying the Queen's message."
Rebecca Redfern, who trains with Worcester Swimming Club and scored silver medals at both the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, said: "I was extremely excited when I found out that I would be carrying the Baton down the River Severn on a dragon boat! Being a Batonbearer is a once in a lifetime opportunity and carrying it on the dragon boat makes it even more special and memorable. I cannot wait to be a part of this historic event and continue to inspire the present and future generations."
Thousands of people are expected to line Worcester's streets on 22 July to watch Rebecca and other local Batonbearers carry the Baton through the city from 5.30pm on the day, as part of the build-up to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
During its time in Worcester, the Relay will visit Worcester Cathedral, Worcestershire County Cricket Club's famous New Road ground, Worcester Racecourse and many other city locations – with more details to be revealed very soon.
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. The Relay provides the opportunity for communities to experience the excitement for Birmingham 2022.
The Queen's Baton Relay is travelling the length and breadth of England for the next 25 days, before culminating at the Opening Ceremony for Birmingham 2022 on 28 July 2022.
Members of the public are encouraged to get involved with the celebrations and embrace the arrival of the Baton, taking the opportunity to experience the buzz of Birmingham 2022 in their community.
Thousands of Batonbearers, each with inspiring backgrounds and stories, have been given the honour of carrying the Baton during the journey through England, including those nominated in recognition of their contributions to their local community, whether that be in sport, education, the arts, culture or charity. Between 40 and 130 Batonbearers will carry the Baton each day, and the Relay will reach hundreds of villages, towns and cities during its tour of the country.
Since its inaugural appearance at the Cardiff 1958 Commonwealth Games, the Queen's Baton Relay has been a tradition for the Commonwealth Games.
The Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton Relay began at Buckingham Palace on 7 October 2021, when The Queen placed her Message to the Commonwealth into the Baton and passed it to four-time Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox, who had the honour of being the first of thousands of Batonbearers to carry the Baton.
Since then, the Baton has visited Commonwealth nations and territories in Europe, Africa, Oceania, the Americas and the Caribbean.