And on Monday the Queen’s Baton Relay finally arrives in the West Midlands as it nears its final destination.
The baton is set to spend 11 days travelling up and down the region, giving communities the chance to see it up close and cheer on the baton-bearers.
It has travelled the 72 countries and territories of the Commonwealth since it was officially launched by the Queen at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace on October 21, with crowds and celebrations wherever the baton has gone.
On Monday, the baton will begin its journey into the West Midlands as it travels from Liverpool, through Staffordshire and into Shrewsbury.
It is a big deal for the region and councils have been busy finding creative ways to show off the baton as it passes through.
In Shropshire, it will be welcomed at the county town’s Quarry before embarking on a route on Tuesday that takes it to iconic landmarks like the Iron Bridge as well as on a coracle along the Severn.
Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for communities, culture, leisure and tourism, and transport, said: “The baton’s arrival in Shropshire is a wonderful opportunity for people to get involved with the Commonwealth Games and will celebrate all the county has to offer.
“With under a week to go until the first time it visits our county, it’s been exciting to find out who the baton-bearers will be and hear their personal stories.
“The Queen’s Baton Relay is a chance for us all to be inspired by what sport and the communities around it can achieve.”
Tuesday, will also see the baton visit Lilleshall before a visit to Stafford Castle and a kayak ride at Stafford and Stone Canoe Club.
Councillor Carolyn Trowbridge, cabinet member for leisure at Stafford Borough Council, said she was delighted the authority and its partners Freedom Leisure had been able to persuade the QBR organising committee to allow the baton to be taken on the water.
She said: “We wanted to do something different with the baton when it came to us. And if you are going to take it to one of the most successful sporting clubs in the borough’s history, then it is obvious the baton needs to have a proper taste of where so many great paddlers have learnt and honed their trade – that is, on the water.”
On Wednesday, the baton will join a celebration in Beacon Park in Lichfield, a journey through Burntwood and then join a celebration at Chasewater Country Park, including a journey on the water on a wakeboard.
Lichfield District Council’s cabinet member for leisure, Councillor Andy Smith, said: “The journey of The Queen’s Baton Relay through Lichfield district is a truly momentous occasion. We hope crowds will come to soak up the atmosphere in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games.”
After two days of travelling around Warwickshire and Worcestershire, the baton returns to the region with a celebration on the Severn Valley Railway and a journey between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth on Saturday, July 23.
It will then take a journey through South and Mid-Staffordshire, joining celebrations in Codsall, Rugeley, Hednesford and Cannock, before ending the day at Walsall Arboretum.
Councillor Garry Perry, Walsall Council deputy leader for resilient communities said: “This is shaping up to be a great event.
“I encourage residents to come along to celebrate the relay, cheer on our baton-bearers and take part in some of the activities on offer. I hope people will come along to support Walsall’s very own golden girl, swimmer Tully Kearney MBE from Aldridge, who won Silver and Gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
Councillor Adrienne Fitzgerald, portfolio leader for housing, heritage and leisure for Cannock Chase said: “We are extremely honoured that the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay will come through our district as part of its journey.
“I hope that residents will line the route and give all our baton-bearers a very warm welcome.
“This is a once in a lifetime event for Cannock Chase, there are lots of ways that residents can get involved and enjoy the excitement and come together as a community.”
On Sunday, July 24, the baton has a dramatic start to the day as it is parachuted into East Park in Wolverhampton, then taken for a ride around Aldersley Stadium and onwards into the city centre.
In Dudley, the baton joins the Halesowen Fun Run, Mary Stevens Park and the Red House Glass Cone in Stourbridge, the Black Country Living Museum and Wrens Nest in Dudley, before joining a celebration at the Waterfront in Brierley Hill and departing on a barge.
Councillor Steve Evans, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for city environment and climate change, said: ‘This is going to be a fantastic day for the city, one that’s not only going to be lots of fun, but also where families can say they were there to see this historic event take place.
“The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Commonwealth Games tradition that celebrates, connects and excites communities and I’m certainly excited that the people of Wolverhampton have the chance to take part in such a special event.
“We are urging people to please come out and watch on the day and cheer the baton-bearers on as they make their way along the varied route through our great city.”
Councillor Simon Phipps, Dudley Council cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: “The Commonwealth Games is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Dudley and we’re determined to make it an unmissable experience for our borough.
“Working closely with leading venues in the area, we’ll be staging a series of memorable events to celebrate this summer of sport.”
Finally, the towns of Sandwell will enjoy a full day with the baton, with celebration events in Oldbury, Wednesbury, Tipton, Cradley Heath, Rowley Regis, Blackheath, Bearwood, Smethwick, and West Bromwich.
Councillor Laura Rollins, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said: “Excitement is really building now for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“It’s a real privilege that Sandwell will host the Queen’s Baton Relay for a full day and we have some great events and entertainment lined up. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate Sandwell and cheer on batonbearers who are an inspiration to us all.”
Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay route
Monday July 18: Liverpool, Keele, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent, and Shrewsbury
Tuesday July 19: Ironbridge, Telford, Newport, Lilleshall, Stafford, Stone, Rudyard, and Leek
Wednesday July: 20 Uttoxeter, Burton upon Trent, Lichfield, Burntwood, Chasewater, and Tamworth
Thursday July 21: Bodymoor Heath, Atherstone, Market Bosworth, Nuneaton, Bedworth, Rugby and Coventry
Friday July 22: Kenilworth, Whitnash, Warwick, Gaydon, Statford-upon-Avon, Broadway, Pershore, Upton-upon-Severn, Malvern, Worcester
Saturday July 23: Redditch, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster, Bridgnorth, Codsall, Rugeley, Hednesford, Cannock, and Walsall
Sunday July 24: Wolverhampton, Halesowen, Stourbridge, Dudley, Brierley Hill
Monday July 25: Oldbury, Wednesbury, Tipton, Cradley Heath, Rowley Regis, Blackheath, Bearwood, Smethwick, and West Bromwich
Tuesday July 26: Castle Bromwich, Fordbridge, Chelmsley Wood, Marston Green, Hampton in Arden, Meriden, Berkswell, Balsall Common, Knowle, Dorridge, Cheswick Green, Hockley Heath, Dickens Heath, Shirley, Solihull
Wednesday July 27: Edgbaston, Northfield, Cotteridge, Hall Green, Bordesley, Balti Triangle, Small Heath, Birmingham City Centre
Thursday July 28: Birmingham City Centre, Jewellery Quarter, Perry Barr, Sutton Coldfield, Aston, Alexander Stadium