Concert held to mark baton arrival

Hillingdon Times: Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond with Craig Burns (aged seven) and Marilee Burns (aged five) and the Glasgow 2014 Queen's Baton at Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh. (Ben Birchall for Glasgow 2014) Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond with Craig Burns (aged seven) and Marilee Burns (aged five) and the Glasgow 2014 Queen's Baton at Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh. (Ben Birchall for Glasgow 2014)

The arrival of the Queen's Baton in Scotland has been marked by a series of celebrations, culminating in a concert in the heart of Edinburgh.

The baton will travel the length and breadth of the country over the next 40 days, after a 248-day journey around the Commonwealth.

Triple Commonwealth gold medallist Daley Thompson passed it across the border to Team Scotland athlete Eilidh Child in the town of Coldstream in the Scottish Borders this morning.

It was welcomed to Scotland by a guard of honour of local children, holding flags of the Commonwealth, along the Coldstream bridge.

After celebrations in the Borders it headed to Edinburgh where it visited the castle as a 21-gun salute was fired to mark the Queen's official birthday.

The District Gunner, Sergeant David Beveridge, who fires the castle's famous One O'Clock Gun, held the baton as the salute was fired by 105 Regiment Royal Artillery.

Sgt Beveridge carried the baton to the castle drawbridge, accompanied by members of the Lowland Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, before passing it on to Lorraine Kelly.

It went on to visit the Scottish Parliament and a host of locations in the city including Heriot Watt University, 1986 Commonwealth Games venues such as Meadowbank Stadium and the Royal Commonwealth Pool, which will host the diving competitions.

Finally the baton was brought to the city's Princes Street Gardens where a celebratory concert featuring music and dance was presented by actor Sanjeev Kohli.

It was carried on stage to huge cheers by former British, European, Commonwealth and World boxing champion Alex Arthur.

Over the past 248 days the baton has visited 69 nations and territories around the Commonwealth on a 100,000-mile journey ahead of the Games.

For the next 40 days, it will visit more than 400 Scottish communities and be carried by more than 4,000 baton bearers, who are being recognised for their inspiration, hard work and impact on the lives of others.

Child, a Team Scotland silver medallist, said: "Today brings the Commonwealth Games that little bit closer, not just for me, but for people right across Scotland.

"I know that it is going to be something special. I can't wait to run in front of the home crowd at Hampden."

Thompson, who represented England, said he felt "honoured" to carry the baton into Scotland.

Nicola Adams, who won the first ever Olympic women's boxing gold in London, and who will compete for England in the Games, was at the concert in the gardens.

She said: "I just can't wait for everything to unfold.

"It's just creating that buzz, and I hope that buzz is going to continue into the Commonwealth Games where everyone will be watching and supporting the athletes across all the different sports."

The baton was sent on its way by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on October 9 last year, travelling to Glasgow for a civic reception the following day before leaving with a delegation of organisers for Delhi, host of the last Commonwealth Games in 2010.

Its final destination will be the opening ceremony in Glasgow on July 23 where the Queen will read the special message inside the baton.

Glasgow 2014 chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin said: "Today marks a very special moment for the Glasgow 2014 organising committee, and for Scotland as a whole, as the countdown to our biggest-ever sporting and cultural celebration truly begins.

"Over the next 40 days thousands of people across Scotland can share the building excitement of our moment in history as we all get set to welcome the world to Scotland for what we all aim to be the best Commonwealth Games ever."

During its journey around Scotland the baton will pass landmarks including the Forth Bridge, Loch Ness, the Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Highlands and Skara Brae in Orkney.

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