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Meet the Commonwealth Games batonbearers who will represent Stratford this week

PROUD batonbearers from Stratford district will become part of sporting history when they take part in the Queen’s Baton Relay just days before the Commonwealth Games begin.

Timings have been released for the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay visit to Stratford and Gaydon.

On their marks … Commonwealth Games baton on the Stratford leg include Elizabeth Dixon, Jackie Robinson, Vicki Quarton and Richard Pepperell. Photo: Mark Williamson. (57959805)
On their marks … Commonwealth Games baton on the Stratford leg include Elizabeth Dixon, Jackie Robinson, Vicki Quarton and Richard Pepperell. Photo: Mark Williamson. (57959805)

The relay, in celebration of the Games, will pass through the district on Friday, 22nd July, arriving firstly at Gaydon with a visit the British Motor Museum at 9.57am.

Three batonbearers will be joined by The Queen’s 1953 Land Rover Series 1, which accompanied Her Majesty and Prince Philip on a six-month Commonwealth tour soon after the coronation.

The procession then moves to Stratford where the first batonbearer will start the relay through the town at 10.51am, beginning at the outdoor gym. The route will then go around the Rec to the new bike track (at 10.56am) where Heart of England Mencap will be showcasing one of its free accessible bike sessions

The baton will then be carried around to the Avon Boating chain ferry (11.09am) to cross the river and onto the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (11.17am) where there will be a photo of the baton with representatives from Forest of Hearts, who have recently worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company to create a Forest Garden in The Dell.

Batonbearers will then go along Waterside, up Bridge Street and finish in Henley Street by the Shakespeare statue at 11.29am.

The event also includes, from 10am till noon, the chance to try some Everyone Active equipment on the Rec.

On their marks … Commonwealth Games baton on the Stratford leg include Elizabeth Dixon, Jackie Robinson, Vicki Quarton and Richard Pepperell. Photo: Mark Williamson. (57959803)
On their marks … Commonwealth Games baton on the Stratford leg include Elizabeth Dixon, Jackie Robinson, Vicki Quarton and Richard Pepperell. Photo: Mark Williamson. (57959803)

Cllr Ian Shenton, climate change portfolio holder with responsibilities for leisure at Stratford District Council, said: “This is such an honour for Stratford-on-Avon district to be part of the Queen’s Baton Relay, especially with the Commonwealth Games on our doorstep. We are looking forward to celebrating its arrival and giving it a warm welcome.”

Members of the public are encouraged to get involved with the celebrations and cheer on the district’s batonbearers, who were all nominated and then chosen for their outstanding commitment to communities and to sport, which in some cases goes back decades.

This week the Herald caught up with some of the batonbearers to discover their stories.

Vicki Quarton, founder and bereavement counsellor, Touchstones Child Bereavement Support

“It’s very exciting to be chosen as a batonbearer. Since I set up Touchstones in 2011 I have supported over 1,200 children dealing with bereavement. I was also with Samaritans for 37 years, I’m a magistrate and a lay minister so I think it must be my counselling roles and public service that were taken into consideration. I’m doing part of the Recreation Ground leg and while I’m looking forward to the Commonwealth Games and will try to watch some of it, I’m also going to be in Peru for a holiday that was planned in 2020 but cancelled because of Covid.”

Elizabeth Dixon, Accessible Stratford

“I’m really pleased to have been nominated and I feel honoured and humbled to get a reward like this at my stage of life. I am the founder of Accessible Stratford and also a disability adviser. I campaign for local organisations and businesses to become more accessible for people with disabilities and have worked with county, district and town councils on issues such as blue badge parking and writing accessibility statements. This is all done on a voluntary basis. Birmingham is my city of birth and I’ve also worked there, so it’s in my DNA.”

Dr Roy Lodge MBE (57940219)
Dr Roy Lodge MBE (57940219)

Dr Roy Lodge, former mayor of Stratford

“I am indeed honoured to be a batonbearer and it’s a small but nice consolation for missing out on the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico which I was selected for as a probable athlete but ruled out because of injury. I also missed out on the 1966 Commonwealth Games 20-mile race walking event in Jamaica due to academic finals, but in the following year 1967 I won the national 20-mile championship of Great Britain and Northern Ireland beating the gold, silver and bronze medallists from the 1966 Games. Life has its compensations if you’re patient and never give up and I am humbled and excited to join colleagues for the relay and with the Commonwealth Games being right on our doorstep. It is also a great honour for Stratford to host the baton relay and I think I was chosen as recognition of my 20 years’ service to the town.”

Richard Pepperell, director of rugby, Stratford Rugby Club

“Overwhelmed – I always thought this sort of thing happens to other people. My name was put forward because of the fundraising I do with groups for different charities which has helped raise £21,000 over the last three years. The money has supported the injured players fund at Stratford - known as The Pearcecroft Trust - and we’ve also supported Mind, farmer’s mental health, Cyclists Fighting Cancer and the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund. We’ve worked hard to make Stratford RFC a family club and it is thriving.”

Jackie Robinson, retired president and chairman of England Squash

“I’m excited! I feel very proud to be selected, especially as squash is a Commonwealth Games sport. In Manchester I found myself presenting the medals to squash players so it’s fun to be involved at the beginning of the Games. Although I still represent Warwickshire at tennis, I’m not sure I am up to running the 200 metres with the baton on Waterside. I have accreditation to watch the squash and have tickets for the gymnastics at the Games.”

Kezia Bull, charity shop volunteer, fundraiser for Shakespeare Hospice and Children in Need

Kezia Bull. (57940228)
Kezia Bull. (57940228)

“During lockdown I ran 21 miles in my back garden to raise money for the Shakespeare Hospice. I volunteer at a charity shop in Stratford as part of my silver Duke of Edinburgh Award and have also been involved in selling raffle tickets for Children in Need at both Carfest North and South, both of which I will be doing again this year. I also do a lot of volunteer work. I have been playing football for almost seven years and recently qualified as a referee which definitely helped me in the selection procedure.

“I’m very happy to have been nominated, it’s nice to have recognition for my hard work and it’s a great opportunity to be part of the Games.”

Les Barnett, coach, Leamington Cycling and Athletics Club

Les Barnett. (57940250)
Les Barnett. (57940250)

“I’m still coaching at the age of 80 and on 7th July celebrated 60 years of marriage. I was nominated by Great Britain International Athlete, Sue Harrison, who went to Stratford Girls’ Grammar School. I am still coaching Sue 35 years later and seen her win titles and medals at all levels from club to World Championship level.

“I started athletics in 1959 but only at local police level and then joined Leamington in 1967 as a sprinter. I won the first of my three Warwickshire AAA 400m titles in 1971 and the first of five national police titles in 1972. I ran for the club, Warwickshire, Midlands and the national police team in the UK and Europe at 400m and 4x400m relay. I became a coach in 1974.

“I’m a retired police inspector with 33 years in Warwickshire Police, including three at Stratford (1980-83).

“Being given the honour of carrying the Queen’s Commonwealth Relay Baton is a proud moment for me, my family and my club.”

Paul Hawkins, chairman of Stratford Athletic Club

Paul Hawkins. (57940259)
Paul Hawkins. (57940259)

“I’ve been chairman for 21 years and I am very proud to be nominated by the athletic club. I started coaching in 1990 and became more and more involved. I specialised in race walking and that will help me with my part of the baton relay which is in Bridge Street and I’ve got all the kit ready.”

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