Bendigo Queen’s Baton Relay: Baton bearers join the honour ahead of the Commonwealth Games

THE 19 baton bearers carrying the Queen's Baton through Bendigo on its way to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games were given a star greeting at Camp Hill Primary School on Wednesday morning.

The baton bearers, chosen through a community nomination process, greeted students at a special assembly before the Bendigo leg of the relay got underway.

Scroll down to read about each baton bearer

There was plenty of applause as, one by one, the baton bearers were introduced and the students learnt what the relay was all about.

The students also had a look at the Queen's Baton and discovered what it symbolised.

The baton is made of macadamia wood, native to the Gold Coast, to symbolise the past; in the centre is a stainless steel stringer for the present, reflecting what is happening around the baton; and to represent the future, recycled plastic.

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The revelation part of the baton was made from recycled plastic - recovered on the beaches and waterways of the Gold Coast – was met with surprised gasps from the students.

It was soon time for the baton relay to get underway.

Leg one – Glenn Woodhatch, Brad Orton and Dennis O’Hoy

The school's ambassador handed the baton to the first carrier, Glenn Woodhatch, who took it out of the school, past the Queen Elizabeth Oval and down on to View Street.

He was greeted by family and friends at the side of the road, while others came out of businesses to watch the relay unfold.

After his 200-metre leg, Mr Woodhatch passed the baton to Brad Orton, who had the role of taking it down to Rosalind Park for the community celebration.

As he made his way into the Rosalind Park piazza, he was met with applause and cheers from the dozens of people gathered.

Dennis O'Hoy received the baton from Mr Orton on stage, before a short ceremony.

Mayor Margaret O'Rourke wished Australia's competitors in the Games a "peaceful and successful" games.

Cr O'Rourke also thanked the community for bearing with some inconveniences as the relay passed through the city, describing the day as a "wonderful, historic occasion".

Dennis O’Hoy carried the baton aboard a tram that has a long history for the town. 

“The whole thing is so exciting, it is good to be on tram number eight, the oldest tram running in Bendigo since 1903,” Mr O’Hoy said.

“It is wonderful, great crowd and a great lot of baton bearers.”

Tram driver Steve Kirkpatrick said he was honoured to drive the tram for Mr O’Hoy.

"It's very special to be asked to drive the tram from 1903 for this important event for Bendigo,'' Mr Kirkpatrick said.

Leg two – Russell Jack, Edward Barkla, Leslie Trimble and Kaye Trimble

Russel Jack carried the baton along Pall Mall.

“It is really good to be a part of the relay today,” Mr Jack said.

Mr Jack was also involved in carrying the Olympic torch in 2000.

“It was very special, a real thrill,” Mr Jack said.

Edward Barkla carried the baton along McCrae St, around the corner into Chapel St.

“It has been a great build up towards today, it has all been arranged really well this morning,” Mr Barkla said.

“They have made us feel a part of the celebrations, it is lovely to hear all the community stories and how it all intertwines.”

“It is really special day today.”

Mr Barkla was able to share the occasion with a very special Valentine’s Day kiss from his wife Maree Barkla.

Leslie Trimble carried the baton from Chapel St, around the corner into Hargreaves St.

“It’s really great to be involved today,” Mr Trimble said.

Kaye Trimble carried the baton along Hargreaves St.

“it is a real buzz, everybody has been so helpful,” she said.

“I think Bendigo will really appreciate the hype it brings for the city.”

“I am a great admirer of Queen Elizabeth, I’m very happy to carry her message along for the Commonwealth games.”

Leg three – Ellyse Roper, Colin Thompson, Joel Bertoncini and Denis Nihill

As always, Bendigo Town Hall provided the perfect backdrop for the relay where Ellyse Roper took the baton from Kaye Trimble.

Ellyse has been involved with Little Athletics for most her life and will also play a role at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, volunteering for the medal presentation at the athletics events.

Speaking before her leg, Ellyse said it was an honour to be a part of the relay.

"I can't believe I'm privileged enough to be able to carry the baton, especially with so many other amazing people carrying it," she said.

"I couldn't believe I got all the school kids, I'm so excited about that.

"Kay's my distant cousin and she's passing it to me, and Bradley Orton is my first cousin, so we've got a bit of a family thing going on in the baton relay today, it's really exciting."

Ellyse held the baton out for students from Creek Street Christian College in front of the town hall, who had been patiently waiting for half an hour.

Leading Senior Constable Niall King from Bendigo Highway Patrol had earlier given the kids a show by driving up and back past town hall as they waved and cheered.

Sergeant Mick McCrann also made an appearance, racing down Bull Street to stop a scooter rider in front of the Metropolitan Hotel.

Colin Thompson took the baton from Ellyse at the post office and ran along Williamson Street before passing it on to Joel Bertoncini.

Joel held it out for more school students, while council staff and office workers applauded as it made its way down Myers Street.

Denis Nihill took the baton at the BTEC building as the baton bearers were whisked away in a bus.

Leg four  – John Stancombe, Nathan Rogers and Arj Perera

Men dedicated to keeping their neighbours safe from fire were honoured with an invitation to carry the Queen's baton today.

It was the second time Maldon firefighter John Stancombe took part in the Commonwealth Games tradition; he previously escorted the baton through Castlemaine in the lead-up to the Melbourne games in 2006.

He was last month acknowledged for 30 years of service to his local CFA station. 

Mr Stancombe's parents, Pat and Keith, cheered on their son as he ran east on Myers Street, saying they were excited to take part in the occasion. 

"It's a bit different to what he normally does," Mrs Stancombe said, explaining her son drives B-doubles for a living. 

Mr Stancombe handed off the baton outside the Bendigo fire station to Nathan Rogers, a former CFA volunteer and the founder of the Bushfire Foundation, an organisation which seeks to prepare the community for the threat of fire.   

Watching on as their dad completed his leg of the race were sons Bailey, five, and Heath, four. 

Bailey described his dad as a hero. Even though he understood the honour was in recognition of Mr Rogers' community service, it was the smaller deeds Bailey appreciated most.

"He took me to the cricket," the five-year-old said.

In Hopetoun Street, Mr Rogers stopped briefly for a photograph with fitness and mental heath advocate Arj Perera, who then carried the baton on its next leg.

Leg five – Lynn Walker, Gary Warnest and Andrew Barling

Lynn Walker had plenty of support from her home-town of Kyneton as she accepted the Queen’s baton from Bendigo sports identity Arj Perera at the corner of Hargreaves and Baxter streets.

A near 30-strong contingent of family, including son Steve, daughters Nicole and Renai and her brother Ron, could not hide their love for the tireless community worker and CWA member.

The humble 69-year-old wondered out loud what all the fuss was about.

“I am nothing special,” she said.

“I’m nothing special …. but I have got a special family.

“But I am proud and very honoured to do this.”

Also in the crowd on Baxter Street were mother Janeen and son Luke Barker, from Bendigo.

They were standing just metres from where they were when the Olympic torch relay passed through Bendigo in 2000.

Luke, now 18, was in a pram back then, but is a university student these days.

He was there to see Arj Perera.

“He’s doing good things in sport in Bendigo, supporting many clubs I’m involved with, including Epsom Soccer Club,” he said.

Mum Janeen knew two of the participants in Wednesday’s relay – Laurie Preston, who she taught with at Eaglehawk Secondary College, and Kay Trimble.

Next up on the parade route was long-serving Bendigo Table Tennis Association president Gary Warnest.

The relay was only the continuation of his involvement with the Commonwealth Games.

The 65-year-old will be an umpire at the Gold Coast games.

“It was really amazing to be nominated and accepted into a group as prestigious as these people; their contribution to community is just fantastic,” he said.

“Russell Jack, Dennis O’Hoy and the like are just amazing people, with amazing contributions.

“I’m very civic-minded, love Bendigo and love my sport of table tennis.”

From Warnest, the baton was handed to Andrew Barling, who significant contribution to Bendigo and beyond has come in his chosen field of health.

Dr Barling established the OTIS Foundation in the memory of his late wife Judy Burley to support women with breast cancer.

A familiar face at Bendigo Health for 20 years, Dr Barling believed his relay appearance was a reflection of the great work done by those involved with the foundation.

“I am very excited the foundation has a chance to be a part of this and has become as big as we have, to the point we are now a national organisation,” he said.

No one was more proud to see Dr Barling jogging down McRae Street than his 12-year-old son Jamison.

“He’s been injured the past few weeks, so he’s obviously quite excited to be running this stretch,” he said.

“He has helped a lot of people with his work in the community and I don’t think it’s going to be forgotten.”

Leg six – Laurie Preston and Martin Mark

The excitement was palpable well before the baton entered view on the final leg of its journey through Bendigo.

Family and friends of Athletics Bendigo life member Laurie Preston gathered along McCrae Street, where it was expected Andrew Barling would pass the baton.

Mr Preston's children and grandchildren were among those eager to see the baton change hands.

Some had come from other parts of the state to cheer Mr Preston on.

He could not have been more thrilled to see them as he alighted from the support van, ready to play his part in the baton's journey to the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games.

"It's just terrific support," Mr Preston said.

"I think one of the good things about this sort of event is getting family to come together."

The arrival of Dr Barling and the baton elicited cheers from Mr Preston's supporters, some of whom whipped out their phones to capture the pass.

There was time for a few quick photographs before Mr Preston set off, lightly jogging to the final pass.

Bendigo's final baton-bearer, Martin Mark, was ready and waiting just past Nolan Street.

Those who were walking struggled to keep up as the Sports Focus deputy chair made his way to the end of the baton's route.

Before we knew it, the event that had quite literally stopped traffic was finished.

"It was so amazing. I couldn't believe I was nominated in the first place, but to a part of this great event for Australia certainly really proud to be a part of this," Mr Mark said.

He said being part of the Queen's Baton Relay was an honour he would remember for the rest of his life.