This site is intended for health professionals only

Carrying the Commonwealth baton

Practice nurse Rhona was one of the baton carriers for the recent Commonwealth Games. She writes about her experience 

Recently I had the pleasure of being one of the Queens Baton Relay carriers. I had been nominated earlier this year by one of the GPs in my practice. When I accepted the nomination I thought about the many people I met daily who did much more than myself quietly, often unnoticed by people around them - the unsung heroes that we meet regularly. 

As I write this the Commonwealth Games are almost ready to open and it looks as though the weather is going to be kind, I live just about 20 miles from Glasgow so these really are the home games for me. 

A few weeks ago I did not feel much excitement among local people about the games but the build up to the Baton coming to our area seemed to get local people involved. On the day the weather was terrible for part of it and in spite of that the people turned out in large numbers everywhere it went. 

Thankfully for me when it was my turn in early evening the rain had stopped and remained off for the celebrations at the end of the day. Friends and family turned out for my section I think I had the noisiest group of supporters. 

It was really interesting meeting other people taking part. Many were involved in sport and had been nominated for this; some had overcome personal challenges and some for contributing to their local community in some way. 

Today I watched proudly as a friend in her late 80's proudly carried the baton in Glasgow, her home town. Emily is a real character typical of her generation in Glasgow. I first met her some years ago at a café for homeless people we were both involved with. While I did a shift once a month Emily was on every fortnight and was also a volunteer at a street service in the evenings in Glasgow. Only in the last year after a period of poor health has she had to give up some of her volunteering. She is a truly worthy baton bearer. 

The last time I can remember there being such a buzz locally was when the Tall Ships' Race came to Greenock. Likewise then the weather was kind and there was such a festive feel around. Crime apparently went down and the feel good factor seemed to last beyond the event. 

We have been lucky for the most part with the weather and this has helped with the supporters coming out in force. Even for those without tickets there has been so much on in the surrounding area that everyone can feel part of the games. Glasgow city centre at the weekend was like a really busy Christmas shopping day. I think the Olympics being in London two years ago has probably helped as they were so successful that many people got more involved both in watching and taking part in sport. 

The area that is home to the Commonwealth village and many of the venues being used for the competition are in areas of social deprivation where life expectancy is still ten years less that the most affluent areas of Glasgow, even after ten years of work to try and reduce this. 

My hope is that the legacy of the Commonwealth Games is a catalyst to start to turn this around.