Boston Batonbearers Linda Baxter and Paul Ward

The Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay was welcomed into Lincolnshire as people cheered on Batonbearers in both Skegness and Boston.

The towns were part of just 180 communities in England to host the baton in a 25-day tour ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The baton, having travelled from Lincoln, arrived in Skegness at 8am before then going to Boston, Grantham, Loughborough, Derby, Bakewell and will finish the day in Buxton.

The Skegness Batonbearers were Paul Dixon and Geoffrey Wilson. Paul, who was medically discharged from the Army in 2004, is chairman of the Skegness branch of The Royal British Legion, and a Lincolnshire Committee member. He is also the County Community Support Coordinator for Lincolnshire on behalf of the RBL. He started the relay in Skegness around Compass Gardens before passing it on to Geoffrey Wilson.

Mr Wilson, 79, is one of Magna Vitae’s longest serving members. The RAF veteran is probably Magna Vitae’s oldest climber of the Altitude 44 high rope attraction. Today, he scaled Altitude 44 with the baton and rang the bell at the top of the facility before being lowered by a zip wire to the ground.

Skegness baton bearers Paul Dixon and Geoffrey Wilson

Commonwealth Games Minister Nigel Huddleston was in Skegness to welcome the baton and meet the bearers. During his visit, he thanked the inspirational Batonbearers for being pillars of their community while also praising Skegness as a visitor destination.

He said: “As a Yellowbelly myself, I always love returning to Lincolnshire and especially today because we are able to highlight both the Commonwealth Games and Skegness as a fantastic tourism offering. It has been a pleasure to meet the Batonbearers, they are truly inspirational and pillars of their community.

“It is always fantastic to come back here to Skegness, a truly family friendly resort. There is so much investment happening here, it is a town which knows how to constantly refresh its brand and offer something different. I encourage anyone who has not been to Skegness for a while to come and see what the town has to offer.”

The baton then travelled to Boston’s Market Place where Batonbearers Peter Ward and Linda Baxter took it on a route via Church Street near the iconic St Botolph’s Church.

Peter Ward from Boston gives time to the local triathlon club to coach young children to improve swimming to enable them to take part in triathlons. At the age of 69 he qualified for the GB Age Group World and European Duathlon Age Group Championships and at the age of 71 finished for a couple of years.

Linda Baxter is the head coach of Evolution Martial Arts in Boston. Her main aim over the past 14 years has been to give youngsters and adults a positive goal in life. In that time, she has also produced Kickboxing World, European and British champions.

Cllr Steve Kirk, Portfolio Holder for the Coast Economy at East Lindsey District Council, said: “It was great for Skegness to be chosen to host the Queen’s Baton Relay today – there is no greater honour to have it come here than in the Queen’s Jubilee year.

“The baton is only going to a select number of places on its way to Birmingham, not every area is getting it and so it is fantastic for Skegness to be one of very few coastal resorts on the East coast to have this celebration.

“Our Batonbearers, Paul Dixon and Geoffrey Wilson, are a credit to our town and I am so pleased they had a fantastic turnout of people cheering them on for this very memorable day for them. It was also great to meet Commonwealth Games Minister Nigel Huddleston MP, who spoke highly of the investment opportunities and the tourism offer which makes Skegness the buzzing holiday and tourism destination it is.”

Cllr Nigel Welton, Boston Borough Council deputy leader, said: “What a fantastic occasion it was to bring the Queen’s Baton Relay to Boston. The town is proud to have been chosen to host the event and play its part in this national ceremony.

“I would like to thank the Batonbearers Peter Ward and Linda Baxter for their service and commitment to the town and I hope they enjoyed their special day.”

Cllr Tracey Abbott, Portfolio Holder for the Town Centre at Boston Borough Council, said: “Today was an honour for Boston and a time of celebration. The Batonbearers continue to do so much work in helping the young people of this town succeed personally, as well as in sport, so it is great they have been recognised in this unique way today.”

Cllr Nigel Welton, Paul Ward, Linda Baxter and Cllr Tracey Abbott