Crowds turned out to watch two soldiers, each with inspiring stories, carry the Queen’s Commonwealth Baton on part of its epic journey to Birmingham, the host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
One of them was Major Naveed Muhammad who carried the baton up the steps of the Armed Forces memorial which bears the names of Armed Forces killed since the end of the Second World War.
Naveed who is the Army’s National Liaison Officer is committed to changing misconceptions about the Armed Forces and strengthening relationships with Britain’s diverse communities.
He said: “It’s been an honour to be involved in the Baton relay, especially at the National Memorial Arboretum which is incredibly important to the Armed Forces community – both serving as well as veterans. It is a space to remember fallen colleagues and it plays a crucial role in commemoration and ensuring that inspirational stories of service and sacrifice are preserved for future generations.”
He continued: “We will have members of the Armed Forces competing in the Commonwealth Games. It will be a fantastic occasion bringing together athletes from every corner of the globe for a spectacular celebration of sport and friendship.”
Mental health campaigner and single dad Sergeant Adam Sefton picked up the Baton on route through Dudley. He was selected as a Batonbearer for his phenomenal dedication to supporting Army reservists across the borough and his work to raise awareness of men’s mental health.
Sergeant Sefton serves with The Royal Yeomanry. He works as the Regimental Engagement Mentoring Support Officer for The Royal Yeomanry’s West Midlands Squadrons in Dudley and Telford. He is responsible for pastoral care and employer engagement, overseeing recruits’ journeys from civilians to trained soldiers.
When forced to adapt his work during the pandemic, Sergeant Sefton stepped up, volunteering to do two extra nights of work per week to accommodate recruits when capacity at the reserve centre was limited and even delivered virtual personal training sessions.
He has also supported community organisations like Tough Enough to Care, which aims to challenge the stigma around men’s mental health and West Midlands Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association.
Sergeant Sefton has also overcome personal challenges, escaping an abusive marriage and taking permanent custody of his sons.
He said he was “taken aback to be selected as a Batonbearer” and added: “It was quite a shock. I’m really honoured and privileged to be representing my organisation, Dudley borough and the Black Country. It’s filled me with pride. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The Queen’s Baton Relay began at Buckingham Palace on 7 October 2021. Since then, it has made its way around the world, covering an estimated 90,000 miles as it passed through all 72 Commonwealth nations and territories on its way to the 2022 opening ceremony.