Categories: Sanger Life21 December 2022

From creation to celebration: Behind the scenes of the Science and Sport Fun day

On Saturday 9th July 2022, the Wellcome Genome Campus opened its gates to local families, school children, entertainers, staff, and many more to celebrate the arrival of the Queen’s Baton Relay, on its way to Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The relay began in October 2021 at Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth placed her message to the Commonwealth into the Baton. It then embarked on a 294-day journey through all nations and territories of the Commonwealth, with events in some cities to celebrate its arrival.

The baton was carried through the Hinxton leg of the journey by four Baton Bearers who were nominated in recognition of their contributions to their local community and being an inspiration to others.

Claire Reece and son Hugo were invited to be Baton Bearers for their fundraising and campaigning work for disability charity Sense. The charity have supported Hugo, who has CHARGE syndrome, since he was five days old.

They were proceeded by a Bagpiper and procession of children carrying bright, colourful flags.

Over 3,000 people attended the event and followed feathered flags across the Campus to explore local entertainers, food trucks, sports games, science activities, exhibitions and talks about the genetic research that takes place.

But, how did it come together?

Around three to four months before the event, the Wellcome Genome Campus was chosen as a site of great importance by the Queen’s Baton Relay team, for all the work that was undertaken to sequence, analyse and track SARS-CoV-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus the Queen’s Baton Relay team recognised the internationality of the Campus staff and the breadth of research they do with partners all around the globe.

To honour this, the Wellcome Genome Campus in collaboration with South Cambridgeshire District Council decided to throw an event celebrating sport and science, and invite local communities.

The event took a tremendous amount of planning, led by Linda Prior and Emily Mobley, with help from many teams across the Campus and the Council.

For an event of this scale, which would usually take more than a year to organise, the team only had three months to pull it all together. Instead of things happening one at a time, the quickly approaching date meant that a lot of decisions had to happen at once. This included the theme, Science and Sport Fun day, which was chosen to celebrate the work that takes place on Campus and welcome the Baton Relay in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games. There was also a huge amount of logistics and health and safety matters to consider and plan for, plus meetings with the local Council, Emergency Services and other bodies to ensure the event would be safe for all those attending.

1.Group shot

Baton Bearers at the Wellcome Genome Campus. Credit: Rachael Smith / Wellcome Sanger Institute

The range of activities planned meant there was something for everyone – from design your own baton, to a range of hands-on science demonstrations, inflatable sports games and even a family fun run. The Cambridge Rock Choir, Panic Steel Band, Umbrella Big Band, FYI Duo and various buskers kept everyone entertained throughout the day from the main stage and various sites around the Campus.

Sustainability was a core theme underlining the event. Free park and ride shuttle buses to the Campus were provided and local people were encouraged to arrive on foot or by bike. A water bar was set up, offering free refills for people on the day — which was a huge hit on such a hot day!

The food trucks and entertainers were sourced from the local area, as well as a fairground and inflatable sports. The craft fair proved popular, with local craft traders selling hand-made clothing, jewellery and food items among other things. Plus there were garden games for people to enjoy and an opportunity for local sports and dance clubs to display their skills, creating a fun atmosphere and giving crowds (and stewards) plenty to get involved in.


Family science activities in Hinxton Hall Conference Centre. Credit: Onur Pinar / Wellcome Sanger Institute

The plan was always dynamic, open to ideas from everyone who was involved in the planning meetings. It would not have been possible to plan this event without every single person who pulled together and helped, in whatever capacity — often taking on work on top of their usual day jobs.

The Estates and Grounds teams worked particularly hard in organising the Campus for the day. There was a large amount of logistics in preparing the grounds and infrastructure, closing certain roads and paths on Campus, plus reacting to various scenarios on the day, and the event would not have been possible without them.

All of the hard work paid off on the day, which was a huge success. In particular, local residents were thrilled to explore the Campus that’s on their doorstep and find out more about the work that takes place there.

The Wellcome Genome Campus and South Cambridgeshire District Council welcomed in the Queen’s Baton Relay, and four Baton Bearers, in a sea of multi coloured flags and the sound of applause. It was a pleasure to host the local community and we thank everyone who came on the day to celebrate with us.


Family fun run. Credit: Onur Pinar / Wellcome Sanger Institute

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