The Commonwealth Games Baton Relay gets real

COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Phillip Lane with Dale Brunsdon, left and the late Bill Lenthall at his retirement from the Macksville Fire Brigade.
COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Phillip Lane with Dale Brunsdon, left and the late Bill Lenthall at his retirement from the Macksville Fire Brigade.

You couldn’t find a more self-effacing guy than Macksville’s Phillip Lane.

When asked his reaction to being chosen as a runner in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay when it passes through Macksville on February 2 next year, he mused that perhaps they couldn’t find anyone else. Anthony Mills is the other runner.

“I actually didn’t even know I’d been nominated – my daughter did it,” Phillip said.

“I got a phone call and I thought it was just a gee-up … there are so many others who would fit the bill, I feel very honoured. I’m normally a background person, but this will put me right in the foreground.”

He said during that first brief call he was asked long it would take him to cover 200 metres.

“I said about four seconds in a car … that was a bit cheeky.”

Phillip is a well-known member of the community.

Born in Macksville Hospital, on what is now the site of the primary school, he has been an active member of the surf club since 1966 and was in the local fire brigade for 28 years.

“I’ll help anyone if I can.”

He said he felt it was good to represent the community but would trade his place in a heartbeat for someone like Steve Wood, who is still in hospital recovering from an horrific tractor accident in March.

“I’d love to see him running with the baton. I wake up every day and feel blessed that I am still fit and active. My job with Mid North Coast Trucks is pretty physical … I reckon I’ll jog the distance.”

The relay began at Buckingham Palace in London on Commonwealth Day, Monday, March 13.

At the commencement ceremony Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II placed Her message to the Commonwealth and its athletes into the Baton and entrusted it to the first baton bearer.

The Baton has been visiting all nations and territories of the Commonwealth ever since. It starts its Australian journey on 25 December and will make its way around the country for 100 days before arriving on the Gold Coast for the Opening Ceremony on April 4, 2018.