Local heroes celebrated and devoted councilor remembered in the spectacular Bridgnorth Stick

Michelle Southall pole holder

The stick traveled the country ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games on Thursday.

Today he arrived in Bridgnorth in style – on the specially painted Jubilee Elizabeth II train, before a city tour that included a stop at Severn Park, a tribute to a longtime councilor and a journey down the road to iron from the cliff.

The Severn Valley Railway was the first port of call, with Jess Benyon, 27, from Stourport, handing over to Michelle Southall, who took the first leg from the station to the town.

Jess Benyon, left, of Stourport, and Michelle Southall, of Redditch

Jess had been chosen for her role with the Dwarf Sports Association, while Michelle 52, from Redditch, was selected for her efforts to raise over £100,000 for charity following the death of her 12-year-old daughter, Lucie, from leukaemia.

After being cheered on the platform, Michelle carried the baton out of the station through an honor guard of Severn Valley Railway volunteers with revisions and raised shovels.

The route through town involved eight other stick holders – Dana Power, Lindsay Pulley, Arun Kapur, Harry Hemmings, Davinder Chatha, Andy Pheasant, Neil Taylor and Lauren Cooper.

Charity marathon runner Dana Power, most commonly seen in a dragon costume

Their efforts were followed by Jean Childs who had the honor of carrying baton on the iconic Cliff Railway.

There were huge cheers from the crowd in a succession of transfers as people lined the streets to cheer on the baton-bearers – flanked by a special team of police support runners .

Dana, a well-known Bridgnorth figure who has run many marathons in her familiar ‘Puff’ the dragon costume, has raised thousands of dollars for asthma charities.

Members of the Cleobury Mortimer Running Club, left to right: Ruth Alliston, Jeremy Ferguson, Pam Edwards and David Alliston, with six-year-old Megan Price

As he retrieved the stick, there were predictable shouts from the crowd of “where’s Puff”, with the runner sticking to the traditional stick-carrier uniform for his stretch.

Neil Taylor, 52, who runs the Fox Inn in Shipley, was on the penultimate leg of the route – selected for his efforts to raise nearly £200,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Neil’s charitable efforts were inspired by the hospital’s help for his daughter Kihana, who needed five major operations for heart disease.

Severn Valley Railway volunteers Mike Wilson, Eric Williamson and Paul Tanner

He said he was proud and humbled to have been cast in the role.

He said: “It’s a huge honour. The whole experience. We followed her on a media bus with six riders, it was like ‘what the hell’.

“It’s just a huge honor and it’s nice to have been invited.

“It’s about raising awareness of the fantastic work that Birmingham Children’s Hospital does.”

The relay arrives at Bridgnorth via the Severn Valley Railway

As part of the occasion, Severn Park also held a number of taster sessions in different sports throughout the day, trying to encourage people to try their hand and get active.

As the baton carriers were celebrated on stage, Dame Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, also made an appearance, saying she had been “stunned by the reception”, adding: “It’s amazing “.

Before the witness stepped out on her final trip through town, Councilor Kirstie Hurst – Knight paid tribute to longtime Bridgnorth councilor Les Winwood, who died earlier this week.

The crowd joined in the applause in memory of Councilor Winwood, who served the city for more than 40 years.

Dana Power and Lindsay Pulley

The final leg saw the stick head for the Cliff Railway, where Jean Childs had the honor of carrying it for the journey on the historic railway.

Ms Childs, 71, and from the city, was selected for her role as a volunteer supporting swimming.

She has been involved in swimming for 34 years, is a qualified British swimming referee – and was returning to the British Swimming Championships in Sheffield after her stint with the baton ended.

Spectators at the Queen’s Baton Relay

Ms Childs, who has been with the North Gate Bridgnorth Swimming Club for 34 years, is also president of the Shropshire Swimming Association.

She said: “To do this on the iconic cliff railway is amazing.

“Just to get the chance to do something like this. It’s for all the people who volunteer and give their time, I got the baton for all of them.”

This wasn’t the end of Ms Childs’ participation in the Commonwealth Games either, and she will take on a volunteer role at the event at the Aquatic Centre.


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