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The power of our community spirit

FOLLOWING the Queen's Baton relay through central Scotland last week I was witness to many fleeting moments which will make lifelong memories for those involved.

It's easy to get event-fatigue in the long hoopla running up to a sporting spree, particularly if sport is not your bag, but it was impossible not to be moved by the community spirit.

As the baton makes it way across the country, unassuming local heroes who have spent their lives quietly grafting away for the greater good are propelled momentarily into the limelight. It was touching to behold their pride and joy at close quarters.

One small interaction in particular is still re-playing in my mind. The main protagonist was, to my mind, what a fairy godmother would look like if she were to sprinkle stardust on herself and step out of the pages of a story book.

She had long, wavy white hair which was wound into a bun on the top of her head and her face was twinkly and kind. In place of a wand she held the baton aloft. She used her brief time in the spotlight to share the experience with as many others in her community as possible.

Instead of striding down the centre of the street cordon she walked the circumference of the large crowd which encircled her and slowly and deliberately held out the baton to every single person who wanted to touch it.

Groups of school kids, their eyes wide with excitement, wound their fingers round it triumphantly as their parents took snaps on their phones. The lady had almost completed the circle when she spotted a group of people in wheelchairs from a local care home who were lined up behind the main throng. "Oh, I must, I must" she said, almost to herself, before making a beeline for one severely disabled man.

She bent over, threw her arms around his shoulders and hugged him tightly and with such compassion as she planted a kiss on his head. He was unable to communicate through speech and his hands were contorted by his condition, but as he held that baton his absolute delight was obvious to all around him. "He has been so excited about coming here today," said the young carer behind the wheelchair.

It's always the smallest gestures which can have the greatest significance. It is a truism, but sometimes we need to see these small moments played out in front of us, to be reminded of it. Thousands of little momentary gestures make up a wave of feelgood. It takes only a few seconds to make someone's day.

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