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Queen's Commonwealth Baton Relay heads to Tonbridge, Dartford, Herne Bay and Maidstone

By KentOnline reporter

Thousands have now taken part in history as the Queen's Commonwealth baton takes its grand tour through Kent's towns.

In Tonbridge, a band played as Dame Kelly Holmes and Lizzy Yarnold helped welcome the baton into the county.

At Tonbridge Castle, youngsters waved flags and cheered its grand entrance in the county.

Baton bearers line up with the baton, including Dame Kelly Holmes
Pupils wave flags as the baton heads to Tonbridge Castle
The crowds at Tonbridge

Neil Hopkinson, 47, from Hadlow, was a steward at the event.

He said: "It's been very exciting and very inspiring for the children. It's a tremendous boost for the profile of the county.

"I'm sure it will encourage children to get into sports and I'm sure they'll all remember it for a very long time."

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Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, along with local schools, has organised a range of activities including the Commonwealth Dance, song and orchestra music.

It left the castle around 9.30am, with activities continuing there for the rest of the morning.

It then headed to Dartford Athletics Track for 10.30am, when schoolchildren took part in activities involving the baton.

Herne Bay High School was the third stop of the day, at around 1pm.

Dame Kelly Holmes with the baton. Picture: Lee Mills
Pupils wait for the baton at Dartford athletics track

Rollerskating and dancing were on the cards, with a host of other activities laid on.

Herne Bay High School principal Dr Claire Owen said she felt a "real sense of excitement", with around 800 primary children turning up for the event.

Even the sun managed to make an appearance!

She welcomed it as an "incredible opportunity for the school" to be inspired by the Commonwealth games, with its values of friendship.

Then it was flags and cameraphones at the ready as the baton headed for Pent Valley School in Folkestone for 2.45pm.

Final stop of the day was County Hall in Maidstone, where the baton cameto rest sometime around 4pm.

A formal ceremony involved dignitaries, such as Minister for Sport Helen Grant and the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Viscount De L’Isle.

Hundreds greet the baton in Herne Bay
Olympian Lizzy Yarnold meets pupils at Pent Valley Technology College in Folkestone

The baton was carried by Dame Kelly Holmes, who was born in Pembury; Millie Knight, a Canterbury schoolgirl who is Britain's youngest winter Paralympian; and skeleton racer Lizzy Yarnold, who grew up in West Kingsdown and attended Maidstone Grammar School for Girls.

Dame Kelly said ahead of the baton's arrival: "I'm delighted that the Queen's baton relay is coming to Kent in recognition of the inspirational work Kent young people are doing around sport and culture through Kent County Council's INSPIRE programme.

"The school children will do a fantastic job in cheering on your inspirational batonbearers and being part of the Team England send-off to Glasgow."

Mike Hill, Kent County Council cabinet member for community services, said: "It is a tremendous honour to welcome the Queen’s baton relay to Kent.

Route of the Queen's baton relay in Kent

"3,300 children will be involved throughout the day, and the county council has worked hard with Kent schools to make the day extraordinarily special and inspirational for young people right across the county."

Video: The baton arrives in Kent

The baton ends its journey in Glasgow, ahead of the games which run between July 23 and August 3.

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