Naval personnel ready for key roles at 2022 Commonwealth Games
And Scotland. Wales. Northern Ireland. Canada. Australia. Pakistan. India. Perhaps St Vincent and the Grenadines or Gibraltar.
A select group of Naval personnel have been picked for ceremonial duties at Birmingham 2022 – part of a 1,000-strong involvement from all three Services in the Games, from a small number of elite athletes competing for medals and officiating at competitions, to participation in the opening ceremony and supporting the delivery of a safe and secure event.
The Band of HM Royal Marines will provide a fanfare of trumpeters for Thursday’s opening ceremony, while 138 flag raisers will be deployed across the venues during the Games, to lead 280 medal presentations over the 11 days of the sporting spectacular.
In addition to the 300 military personnel on ceremonial duties, a ‘Venue Assistance Force’ of regulars and reservists has been formed to work with local authorities, chiefly West Midlands Police, to assist the comprehensive security programme, from providing expert advisers to supplying bomb disposal teams and a counter-drone capability.
Corporal David Steeds, normally a heavy weapons/air defence specialist with 30 Commando IX Group, based in Plymouth, will be raising the national flag of the gold-medal-winning nation.
He explained: “It’s a very short routine: the three of us march forward, secure the flags and then raise them when the nation’s anthem is played, then we ceremonially bring the flags down after the ceremony.
“It’s a very proud moment for me as I’m representing the Royal Marines and will also get to see some of the events, making it quite a unique duty for all of us all.”
Reservist Able Seaman Rachel-Stella Layton from HMS King Alfred in Portsmouth was a dancer in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
She said: “I’m so proud to be taking part in the Birmingham Games not only for the Royal Navy but also the Reserves at such a high-profile event. It’s an amazing, unique occasion, one you will never get to do again.
“The training has been really good fun, it’s a great experience and it’s my first time being mobilised. There’s a lot to learn over a relatively short period, but it’s a great thing to be part of.”
Leading Aircraft Handler Renee Hubert from HMS Seahawk has taken part in several high-profile ceremonial events this year already but expects the Games to “be the best”.
She continued: “More so than just representing the Royal Navy, I am from Guernsey and very proud to represent my Island at the Games. It’s my dream that Guernsey get a gold and I can be the one to raise that flag for them.
“Guernsey is a small island and I know some of the athletes – I went to school with some of them and have trained and run with them in the past, I will be cheering for them all.”
For Petty Officer Sam Quinn, who serves with the Diversity and Inclusion Policy team in Leach Building at HMS Excellent – flying the flag allows him to return to his childhood roots: 18,000-seat Alexander Stadium, home of athletics events, was also the venue for his school sports day.
“I’m really excited to go back to my old running ground where I won some of those races and see what it’s like now,” he said.
“To be part of this event, in my home city, in the Jubilee year and play my role, is such an enormous pleasure and fantastic to be involved.
“I will be one of the team leaders, giving the orders to the flag-raising teams. We’ve trained for over a week for that role and I’m really proud of my tri-Service team – I know they are going to do really, really well.”
Major Charlie Miller of the Royal Signals and the ceremonial lead for the military’s involvement in the games said there a lot of planning had gone into making sure the event ran smoothly.
“I have had sleepless nights, there are a lot of moving parts as well as people coming from different places to be at the right location, at the right time of day, some early, some late, as well as Birmingham traffic being a concern,” he said.
“The vast majority of the 138 personnel here are volunteers and they have really taken to the job in hand. There’s an enormous sense of pride amongst them building toward their duties and what a unique experience it will be.”