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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Baton joins pair eloping to Gretna

Published 19/06/2014 | 12:37

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Damone Barnes and Sally Eastmond take the baton ahead of their wedding ceremony in Gretna (Ben Birchall for Glasgow 2014/PA Wire)
Actress Ashley Jensen carries the Glasgow 2014 Queen's Baton (David Cheskin for Glasgow 2014/PA Wire)
Schoolchildren lined the route of the baton through Dumfries (David Cheskin for Glasgow 2014/PA Wire)

The Queen's Baton travelled by horse and carriage as it joined a happy couple eloping to Gretna Green to get married.

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Crowds greeted the baton as it was carried by Ugly Betty actress Ashley Jensen through the famous village in the south of Scotland.

Sitting in a carriage behind her were Damone Barnes and Sally Eastmond, from Surrey, who will tie the knot later today.

Mr Barnes, 52, said: "It was an amazing experience. To be involved in the baton relay was a bit surreal - it's not really the sort of thing that happens to us. It's normally us on the sidelines, but we are very privileged and honoured to be asked and to become part of Scottish history.

"To be on our wedding day is something that's extra special to us and we will never forget it."

Ms Eastmond, 49, said: "It's been fabulous. We hope our family forgive us - we do love them. We've done this for us, but we did run away together and elope here.

"We just woke up one morning and said 'let's do it'. Gretna Green is romantic, different and a bit quirky - a bit like us.

"We were in the right place at the right time to be involved in the relay and it's been amazing."

Jensen, who is from the neighbouring village of Annan, was the sixth baton-bearer of the day as the relay travelled across Dumfries and Galloway.

Langholm Common Riding Cornet started the celebrations from Langholm Monument, with the baton also taking in Eastriggs, Dumfries, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright and Newton Stewart today before a party in Stranraer brings day 254 of its journey to a close.

Jensen said: "It was a huge honour, not only to be doing it on my home turf, but also the realisation that this baton has been all the way around the world and has been held by so many and it means it's such a significant thing.

"What it symbolises is so inspirational for people - getting children involved in sport and whipping up a bit of excitement before the Commonwealth Games.

"I've been following it and watching it and saw Daley Thompson with it, who was a bit of hero of mine because I was into athletics when I was young, and also the fact that little schoolchildren in Tanzania have held it - it's great to be a part of that."

First to carry the baton on the sixth day of its trek around Scotland was former Olympic and Commonwealth athlete David Stevenson, who holds the Freedom of Dumfries for his services to volunteering and sport.

Also a baton-bearer in Kirkcudbright today is Alec Barclay, who was nominated for his "selfless and near-endless volunteering".

Boxing veteran Willie Martin, who founded Stranraer's Bravehearts amateur boxing club, will hand the baton over to 14-year-old Tyler Jolly, who is a Scottish and British boxing champion.

The visit to the area is part of the baton's journey through the 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, with the final destination being the opening ceremony of Glasgow 2014 next month.

Michael Cavanagh, chairman of the Games, said: "The Queen's Baton Relay is the ultimate symbol of the Commonwealth Games and its arrival in Dumfries and Galloway and journey through Scotland is an important signal to both the athletes and the public that the Games are just around the corner."

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