Norman Richards took part in the first-ever Queen's Baton Relay in 1958
History will be repeating itself 56 years on for Norman Richards when he takes part in the Queen’s Baton Relay during its Rhondda Cynon Taf stage on May 25.
Mr Richards, now aged 74, was one of the Welsh athletes who took part in the Queen’s Baton Relay when it came to Wales ahead of the 1958 Empire Games in Cardiff.
Mr Richards, a retired British Telecom worker and a Youth Hotels Association liaison officer, still has fond memories of that special day 56 years ago. He has told his children and grandchildren the story many times over.
“I am so looking forward to once again having the huge honour of carrying the Queen’s Baton Relay ahead of the Commonwealth Games,” said a proud Mr Richards.
"It was an enormous honour for me to be a part of it in 1958 and I will feel that same pride when I carry it once again in my home County Borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf on May 25.
“I have never, ever, forgotten that day and have told my family all about it many times over. My family will be out in force to see history repeating itself.”
Mr Richards was an accomplished athlete and represented Wales on many occasions at junior and senior level, making him an ideal choice to be a part of the 1958 Queen’s Baton Relay.
“The 1958 Empire Games was the biggest sporting event of its kind ever held in Wales. I was 18 at the time – it was huge,” recalled Mr Richards, of Tonyrefail.
“The Empire Games not only attracted thousands of spectators, but it was broadcast all over the world on television and radio. It was also the first time that the Queen’s Baton Relay was introduced, so I really was holding a piece of sporting history in my hands.”
The 2014 Queen’s Baton Relay began its journey around the Commonwealth countries when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, placed her goodwill message inside it at Buckingham Palace on October 9, 2013.
The Queen’s Baton Relay will cover 118,000 miles before the goodwill message is read out during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.
Prior to that, the Queen’s Baton Relay reaches its Rhondda Cynon Taf stage on Sunday, May 25, making its appearance at the Council’’s ever-popular Aberdare Festival.
This will give the residents of the County Borough the perfect opportunity to get up close to a piece of sporting history, and also be in with a chance of having your photograph taken holding the iconic Queen’s Baton Relay.
Cllr Robert Bevan, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, Leisure and Tourism, said: “I hope as many people as possible will come out on May 25 to cheer Norman and all of our other baton bearers. It is going to be a special day in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
“By welcoming the Queen’s Baton Relay to Rhondda Cynon Taf, we are showing our public support to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but above all else we are showing our support for our Welsh athletes - in particular those living in our own County Borough.
“May 25 will be a historic day in Rhondda Cynon Taf and we wish Norman Richards and all of the Queen’s Baton Relay bearers every success on what will no doubt be an enjoyable occasion, although not a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Norman, but a twice-in-a-lifetime experience!”
The Aberdare Festival takes place at Aberdare Park on Sunday, May 25. Among those performing will be Britain’s Got Talent finalists Only Boys Aloud, South Wales swing artist Paul Black and local cover band The Reason.
Arena attractions include a mountain bike stunt show, duck driving and the Above and Beyond Ariel Display Team.
The Council’s ‘Sports Village’ will also be open throughout the day, offering taster sessions in many Commonwealth Games sports which are available locally such as Badminton, Table Tennis, Cycling, Hockey and Weightlifting and many more.
For further details of the Aberdare Festival call the Council’s Events Team on 01443 424123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org