THE Queen's baton relay will soon set course for Winchester as the build-up to the Commonwealth Games continues.

Having returned to England on Monday, the Baton started its 25-day regional tour which will see it travel the length and breadth of the country, culminating at the Opening Ceremony for Birmingham 2022 on July 28.

Setting off from Stoke on Wednesday morning, the Baton is scheduled to arrive in Winchester in the early afternoon. The Queen’s relay team will visit Winchester Sport & Leisure Park and learn of the wide range of activities available from swimming, climbing and gymnastics to athletics, squash and basketball.

The schedule also includes an hour with local primary school children who have been invited to take part in a Commonwealth Games sports event at the leisure centre.

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Residents have been encouraged to bring a picnic and set up at the University of Winchester Sports Stadium from 1pm, with the Baton procession lapping the athletics track at 2pm.

It will then visit Hambledon Cricket Club in honour of its landmark status as a place that witnessed the evolution of cricket.

Cllr Lucille Thompson said: “This is another fantastic moment for Winchester, we had the Olympic torch here is 2012, and now the Queen’s Baton for the Commonwealth Games. This will bring an additional element of local excitement for our residents – I am sure they will be inspired by what they see.”

Thousands of Batonbearers, each with inspiring backgrounds and stories, will have the honour of carrying the Baton during the journey through England, including those nominated in recognition of their contributions to their local community - whether that be in sport, education, the arts, culture or charity.

Between 40 and 130 Batonbearers will carry the Baton each day, and the Relay will reach hundreds of villages, towns and cities during its tour of the country.

One of the inspirational people tasked with carrying the Baton on its epic journey was champion ice swimmer Kate Steels, who also works for Hampshire County Council.

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Kate, from Waltham Chase, is the World Open Water Swimming Association Woman of the year 2021 and the first person in the UK, and third in the word, to achieve the 'ICE 7'. The challenge involves swimming a mile in water of 5C or less in each continent of the world wearing only a swimsuit, hat and goggles.

She ran two segments in Bournemouth, the last section of the promenade, along Bournemouth Pier and then up the steps to the Zipline.

Being more accustomed to swimming in cold water than running on pavements, Kate says she was on such a natural high she had to be told to slow down as she ran.

She said it had been a "mad dash" to get there having only just arrived back from Greece where she was invited to take part in the Greek Authentic Marathon Swim.

Kate’s nomination was also in recognition of the coaching she provides for a group of teenage girls from Winchester City Penguins Swimming Club - who swam a relay across the English Channel in 2021 - and her services as secretary and chairman of the International Ice Swimming Association Great Britain.

Since its inaugural appearance at the Cardiff 1958 Commonwealth Games, the Queen’s Baton Relay has been a tradition for the Commonwealth Games.

The Baton Relay will be welcomed by communities in Aldershot, Winchester, Hambledon, Southampton and Portsmouth on Wednesday, July 6. To find out more about where to see it in Hampshire, visit:

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