Baton’s subpolar stopover in Falklands before Europe
Queen's Baton Relay
18 Aug 2017
Share this article on social media
It’s been a frosty finish for the Queen’s Baton’s last stop in the Americas, the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.
Situated 52 degrees south of the equator, the Baton’s visit to the Falklands was as far south on the globe as the Queen’s message will travel on the GC2018 Relay.
The Baton touched down at the Royal Air Force (RAF) station at Mount Pleasant only briefly before taking to the skies again, this time in an S-61 helicopter with Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands Brigadier Baz Bennett OBE.
Just before the weather closed in, the Baton was brought safely back to land to continue its journey in the hands of rugged-up youngsters from the military base’s 2ndFalklands Scout Group Mount Pleasant.
The Falklands may be one of the Commonwealth’s more geographically remote territories, but it shares the British Empire’s legacy of sports, evident in the number of people who take part in sport for enjoyment at a grass roots level. Not even subpolar temperatures stop these hardy southerners from enjoying the outdoors and sports, whether it be golf, hockey or the most traditionally popular pastime of shooting.
The Islands’ military history, farming life and abundant wild geese population produce especially sharp shooters. Full bore, small bore, pistol and even archery are popular with all age groups. Shooters will make up the majority of Team Falkland Islands at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) – the biggest competition that they will take part in flying their own flag.
In the capital of Stanley, young archer Liam Gaffray set the Relay off from the Falklands Islands Defense Force buildings. Children and athletes from every active sports club marked the Baton’s route and gave the majority of the 3,400 islanders a chance to carry or run alongside the Baton.
Scouts and Girl Guides carried the Baton in mittened hands through the 1982 Memorial Wood, where a tree stands for every soldier who died defending the islands 35 years ago. But the biggest group of batonbearers by far was the in-line hockey skaters, a sport which has taken the island by storm in the last 18 months.