The Queen’s Baton Relay comes to Durham

The Queens Baton Relay for the 2022 Commonwealth Games will pass through County Durham on the afternoon of Thursday 14th July during which it will be taken on a tour of Durham City centre before being rowed along the River Wear by 2016 Olympic Rowing silver medallist and former Durham ARC junior squad athlete Jess Eddie.

Members of DARC will be accompanying the Baton on its journey along the river, setting off at 15.24 from Durham School landing stage and landing at St Cuthbert’s. As the occasion coincides with Durham Brass Festival (July 10th to 17th) there will be a special performance at The Racecourse from Back Chat Brass.

Jess was introduced to rowing at Durham Amateur Rowing Club at the age of 8 and went on to form a highly successful partnership with twin sister Alex. Coached by Gordon Beattie the pair won a gold medal in the J15 girls double sculls at the National Junior Championships in 2000. While at DARC Jess was also selected for Great Britain at the 2001 and 2002 World Junior Championships, and won at the National Schools Regatta in 2003. After further GB honours she returned to the Club in 2013 to launch a lightweight eight named after her. Her finest achievement as a senior was winning a silver medal in the GB Women’s 8+ at the 2016 Rio Olympics, after which she visited the club with her medal.

Now based in London Jess represents London Rowing Club and since 2019 has been a curator of the Victoria & Albert Museum. She was elected a Henley Steward in 2021 and has commentated on Rowing for Henley Royal Regatta and for the BBC at international Rowing competitions.

Jess and Gordon with Rio silver medal

The Baton’s journey through County Durham will continue with a visit to Seaham, arriving at 17.21, where spectators will be able to enjoy a taste of the town’s Big Brass Bash event, which starts at 6pm. Paul Smith of Sherburn Hill will be carrying the Baton on the Seaham leg of the relay. Paul has done a minimum 5k run every day since January 2007, a feat which has now gone past the 5,600-day mark. Among those to benefit from his efforts have been St Cuthbert’s Hospice, the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal, Dementia UK and Durham Foodbank.

Road closures will be in place on the day of the relay. The Baton’s route through England is shown here, and the routh through Durham is shown here.

Speaking of the Brass Festival Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said, “One of the unique aspects of the festival is the way in which it reaches out to our communities and spreads the joy of music across the county. It is also one of the many festivals that helps to bring distinctive cultural experiences to our residents.”

On 7 October 2021, at a special event at Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty the Queen placed her message to the Commonwealth into the Baton, signifying the start of the 294-day Relay to the 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth. As it travels, the Baton is inspiring people to come together and host moments of celebration ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games which open on July 28th.