The Baton began its journey with a private visit to Team England, who are basing themselves at the University for their immersion camp and official ‘kitting out’ centre ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
Staff, students, alumni, University partners and the local community greeted the Baton at Loughborough’s Hazlerigg Building, where it started its public tour of the town. Flags from across the Commonwealth were on display, carried by children from the University nursery, as Batonbearer Abbie Brown had the honour of taking the Baton on its first leg.
Abbie, a Loughborough Lightning and England rugby sevens star, is set to compete at her second Commonwealth Games at this summer’s event in Birmingham.
At the University rugby pitch, Perry, the Commonwealth Games mascot was there to meet the Baton, joined by the Loughborough Sport Mascot, Bolt, and friends, as well as members of the Team England Women’s Rugby 7s squad.
The Baton was then passed across to Dr Sola Afolabi, who carried it on its final leg of the campus to Shirley Pearce Square.
Dr Afolabi is a Senior Lecturer in Water and Environment Engineering based in the University’s School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering. His research, which focuses on waste management, renewable energy, water quality and wastewater engineering, has taken him across the world, including parts of the Commonwealth.
At Shirley Pearce Square the University hosted a Festival of Sport to give the Baton a celebratory send off. Joined by friends from Loughborough College, the Square was transformed into a summer festival, with food stalls, live music and interactive stands.
As the Baton continued its journey through to the town centre, two more University alumni had the honour of carrying it. Paralympians Dan Greaves and James Hollis – who is also a current member of staff – were welcomed by the crowds, along with fellow Paralympian Emma Wigg, marking the end of the Baton’s visit to Loughborough.
Speaking about the day, Professor Nick Jennings, the University’s Vice-Chancellor said: “Today has been a true celebration of sport and the Commonwealth, and I am delighted Loughborough University has been part of it.
“We have over 100 Loughborough-linked athletes, coaches, practitioners and support staff – representing 10 different nations – attending the Commonwealth Games, and the Baton Relay has been a brilliant way for us to show our support and pride in what they achieved.”
Cllr Jenny Bokor, Charnwood Borough Council’s lead member for Loughborough said: “It has been an absolute privilege to welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay to Loughborough in celebration of the upcoming Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Thank you to our inspirational Batonbearers and everyone who came along to show their support for the Baton and Games. Loughborough has a rich sporting history and the Baton’s visit to the town has provided a fantastic opportunity to inspire residents to get involved in sport.”
Jo Maher, Principal and CEO at Loughborough College, said: “It was fantastic to join our partners for this incredible celebration of sport, culture and diversity on such a stunning day.
“It is so fitting and such an honour that Loughborough was chosen to host a leg of the baton relay so our communities, who have such a unique connection to British sport, could celebrate and support all the athletes competing at the games.
“Congratulations to everyone who played a part in making the day such a great advert for sport in Loughborough.”