Relay big welcome to East Renfrewshire

Glasgow 2014 seems closer than ever for East Renfrewshire as residents lined the streets yesterday (Wednesday) to catch a glimpse of the Queen’s Baton Relay.

The baton toured every town and village in the area, staring in Uplawmoor and ending with a grand finale at Cowan Park, Barrhead.

Bouts of heavy rain weren’t enough to dampen the spirits of crowds gathered along each leg of the route, as thousands took to the streets to welcome in the Commonwealth Games starting next week.

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The relay event was given a big welcome in every corner of East Ren, with the Commonwealth Youth Circus warming up the crowd at The Avenue, Clarkston residents turning out to listen to Williamwood Pipe Band at the Clarkstonwealth Games and youngsters having a ball with puppets and theatre shows around Eastwood Park.

There was even a celebrity in the mix, with Torchwood star and television host John Barrowman taking up the baton at Greenbank Gardens.

East Renfrewshire provost Alastair Carmichael said: “It’s been wonderful to see so many people come out and enjoy the truly fantastic atmosphere — there was so much excitement everywhere the baton visited and thousands of people joined in the celebrations.

“They all gave so much support to our inspiring batonbearers — it was amazing to hear their cheers as the baton arrived in their communities.

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“Well done to everyone involved in the event, from over 100 batonbearers to our residents, and to the hundreds of people who staged events right across the relay route.

“You’ve helped East Renfrewshire make history and given us an occasion to be proud of, and it’s a day we will never forget.”

Russell MacMillan, founder of East Renfrewshire Good Causes, was chosen to carry the baton through shopping centre (and charity partner) The Avenue.

Russell, registered blind and the recipient of a life-saving double transplant, was joined by wife Yvonne, and surprised by a visit from dad Iain (88), who congratulated him on representing hometown Newton Mearns.

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He told The Extra: “It was an honour to carry the baton on behalf of the many of us who have received life-saving organs, and in memory of the organ donor, as without those two organs, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Also picking up the Newton Mearns route were husband and wife Nadeem and Noreen Siddiqui, parents of Kirkhill Primary pupil Ayesha (9).

The youngster is in treatment for leukaemia, and has raised £200,000 for the Anthony Nolan Trust since her diagnosis in April 2011.

Noreen said: “It’s an amazing honour to be carrying the baton, especially in Newton Mearns, as Ayesha’s Appeal has received tremendous support from parents, staff and children from Kirkhill Primary, and from Broom Parish Church.

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“I have felt overwhelmed bby support from neighbours, and I ran on behalf of Ayesha to say a huge thank you.”

The day ended with a celebration at Cowan Park, with entertainment from Melissa Kelly, Emma Bryceland, the Gillian Anderson School of Dance and Bags of Rock.

And the fun isn’t over yet, as the baton returns to the southside on Tuesday (June 22), marking the end of the relay and the Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony the following day.