Turks & Caicos one stop in a journey through 70 nations
Passing the hot sauce to spice up conch fritters is one thing.
But in the Turks and Caicos Islands right now there is something being handed between people that is firing up more than peoples’ tastes.
As of yesterday, April 15, 2014, The Queen’s Baton Relay has officially arrived in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
What’s the Queen’s Baton Relay you may ask?
Unlike it’s better known cousin, The Olympic Torch Relay, the Queen’s Baton is the traveling torch of the Commonwealth Games which will visit 70 nations and territories before it finally ends its journey in Glasgow, Scotland. Once there, it will be opened and the Queen’s message will be read aloud at the Opening Ceremonies of the XX Commonwealth Games.
It’s a massive relay race. All together, this torch will travel 118, 000 miles, and, unlike the Olympic versions, this single torch will make the entire journey being passed from hand to hand as the Queen’s message makes its way through all the participating countries.
“It is quite tricky with baton because the Queen puts a message in the baton; it has to be the same one which is relayed from runner to runner,” says Peter Murphy, of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), “By the end it’s sometimes quite battered because it is bound to get dropped a few times.”
But this special baton is in good hands in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Queen’s Baton Relay first came to the islands in 2006. The nation was again designated to be part of the route n 2010 when TCI sprinter Ronald Parker held high the baton. On April 15th the baton, having left the Cayman Islands on the 14th, will arrive at Providenciales Airport, where a welcoming party consisting of members of the Turks and Caicos Islands Commonwealth Games Association, the Governor, Premier and Minister for Sport will receive the baton.
The baton will begin its journey from the parking lot of the Sammy Bean Plaza, where it will be escorted by groups representing the 17 schools and sporting organizations from the Turks and Caicos Islands. The group will then meet a number of islanders at various handover points all over Providenciales ending up at the Sibonne Resorts in the afternoon.
Many hands will hold the baton. All will be proud islanders. Some will be school children. Some will be athletes like Rodney and Russell Cox, former competitors who now coach others, and Levard Missick, a TCI representative in the 1998 Commonwealth Games. The Coxes and Mr. Missick will take their turns carrying the baton for a leg during its journey around Grand Turk Island.
The Queen’s Baton Relay is very much a national event and will draw islanders together to celebrate national pride. There will be festivities at the Parade Ground on Grand Turk that will include performances by the TCI Community College Dancers, the Trendsetters, the Boys and Girls Brigades and the Maskanoo Group. Also a farewell reception is planned for all Grand Turk relay participants that will be held at the Governor’s Official Residence.
A final farewell to the Queen’s Baton will take place at Providenciales Airport when the baton will return and prepare for its next leg of the relay in the Bahamas.
The baton will carry on through many nations and arrive at the Commonwealth Games when the Queen will read the message she had placed in the baton when the relay was launched at Buckingham Palace on October 9, 2013. Undoubtedly it will be a message of inspiration for the Commonwealth. But for now, it’s the baton that brings inspiration to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Like the hot sauce that just adds that special something, the Queen’s Baton Relay is bringing its own brand of national pride.