THANKS DAD: Dan Flanagan with daughter Catherine who nominated him for a place in the Queen's Baton Relay for all he had done for the community, particularly the Laidley Recreation Reserve.
THANKS DAD: Dan Flanagan with daughter Catherine who nominated him for a place in the Queen's Baton Relay for all he had done for the community, particularly the Laidley Recreation Reserve.

'Proud' dad carries baton for entire community

NOT many daughters get to show their father just how proud they are of him by scoring him a spot in the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay.

But that's exactly what happened when Catherine Flanagan nominated her dad, Dan, for one of the 18 places up for grabs to carry the baton in Gatton on Thursday, March 29.

Mind you, Dan, 66, has done a fair bit in his own right to earn himself the spot; the electrician having been heavily involved in the community for some 40 years, including working for a couple of decades as Laidley Recreation Reserve committee president on turning the old racecourse into the community sporting mecca it is today.

The reserve now comprises seven fully lit touch (three rugby league) fields, six netball courts, two softball diamonds and two soccer fields, a skate park and a 1.4km walking path, grandstand and function room, as well as athletics facilities which each week plays host to about 150 Little As (a group Dan also started so kids and their parents wouldn't have to travel so far to compete).

"But it's not just me," Dan is quick to point out.

"I'm happy with where I am and what I've succeeded in doing, but you can always be better. There's a lot of people do a lot more."

As for his part in the baton relay, Dan said he's "pretty proud to be selected, knowing how many people put in for it."

But a self-deprecating quip isn't far away: "It's something else for them to read out in the obituary," he laughs.

It's a day few in the area are likely to forget, according to Lockyer Valley Regional Council community development and engagement officer Neil Williamson, with a big party planned to celebrate the baton's arrival.

"We're really excited about it," Neil said.

"It's a big thing to close the main street on the day before Good Friday, but it's a once in a lifetime opportunity for this town."

Gatton is the only town between Toowoomba and Ipswich to be honoured with a leg of the relay and celebrations at the Gatton Showgrounds will run from 12-6.30pm on March 29.

Schools will create an opening ceremony-style march past with their banners and, after the baton arrives at the grounds about 12.40pm and formalities are over, local talents and the big drawcards Justice Crew and AccaDacca will hit the stage.

There will be markets, rides for the kids and, of course, a fireworks finish.

But it doesn't end there for Dan, who will get his chance to enjoy the Games first-hand, when he and wife Colleen head to the Gold Coast to see the athletics in April.

The Games run from April 4-15.

  • Toowoomba residents are invited to join festivities to mark the arrival of the baton the previous day, with a community celebration at Civic Square from 4.30-6pm on Wednesday, March 28.

Mayor Paul Antonio encouraged residents to line the relay route through Oakey and Toowoomba.

The final baton bearer will arrive at the Civic Square around 5.30pm, and Art Gallery Park will feature a focus on indigenous culture and sporting activities, with a range of entertainment and food stalls.

Members of Canada's boxing team, who are preparing for their Commonwealth Games bouts in Toowoomba, have been invited to join the celebrations.

  • Southern Downs Regional Council will hold its Warwick community celebration at Leslie Park immediately prior to Gatton's from 8am-10am on March 29. There will be children's activities, entertainment and the official arrival of the baton at 9.15am.

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