Community heroes celebrated in Baton relay event.

Batonbearers named: Tamworth Regional Council Deputy Mayor Helen Tickle and batonbearer Georgia Taggart all smiles ahead of the big event in January. Photo: Gareth Gardiner.
Batonbearers named: Tamworth Regional Council Deputy Mayor Helen Tickle and batonbearer Georgia Taggart all smiles ahead of the big event in January. Photo: Gareth Gardiner.

What a great opportunity to showcase our region and celebrate the achievers in our local community.

When the eyes of the Commonwealth will be directly focused on us and communities like ours across the nation.

The Queen’s Baton Relay in the lead up to next year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast presents us with a unique opportunity.

The symbol of the games arrives in Australia on Christmas Eve – after passing through every Commonwealth Nation – and will be carried by about 3,800 batonbearers through every state and territory – including in our region Gunnedah, Tamworth, Armidale and Coonabarabran – before the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony on April 4, 2018.

Tamworth will be in the spotlight on January 31 – with 15 community members chosen to carry the baton.

For them it was a great honour to even be nominated.

Locally they include not only sporting heroes, but community champions.

People like Tamworth’s Garry Kable, who served in the military for eight years and then, with his wife, was a foster parent for needy children for almost 20 years, and Georgia Taggart, the 2016 winner of the Tamworth NAIDOC Young Achiever Award (Pictured with Deputy Mayor Helen Tickle).

Gunnedah’s batonbearers include Margaret Amos – who’s described as “an inspiring cultural contributor and a staunch Gunnedah-loyal”, and Francis Crump who works tirelessly for the homeless.

In Armidale the honour goes, to among others, William Brunsdon and George Lowrey.

Brunsdon developed an early love for sport, competing in Ireland, Taiwan and Portugal via Down Syndrome Swimming and breaking more than 30 world records.

George Lowrey has been the court curator at the Inverell Tennis Club for 78 years – a tenure interrupted by World War II.

Then there’s Carlton Kopke, the sole police officer in Mendooran since 2013, who established a youth group and has been engaged in other inspiring activities including organising a breathing machine for a terminally ill woman.

So, as you can see, the Queen’s Baton Relay is more than just a year-long lead in to a great sporting event, it’s due recognition for some of our hardest working community members.