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'You've got a choice when it comes to events like this. It might never be repeated, so are you going to sit in the house and let it pass you by, or do you want to be a part of it?'

They came from the four corners of the county.

Families, athletes, community leaders and volunteers all drawn by a rising sense of excitement blown in on the morning wind.

As day 15 of the Queen's Baton Relay reached Angus in a shower of soft summer rain, anyone doubting the enthusiasm of Scotland's people for the commencement of the 2014 Commonwealth Games had time to reconsider. With thousands of spectators flocking from across the area, despite the damp weather, to cheer on the Baton-bearers, lining high streets and country roads, there seems little doubt that games fever is gripping the nation.

It may represent just one small corner of this slab of rock, but in many ways Angus is Scotland in microcosm. Encapsulating a varied landscape that stretches from soft rolling lowlands to rugged hill farms, it is home to everything from industries that survived the demise of manufacturing to tough fishing towns hunched determinedly against the biting North Sea winds.

Its history, similarly, provides a central, historic resonance with the nation's story. The Declaration of Scottish Independence was made here in Arbroath, and although the region is both culturally and physically part of the lowlands, its history as a supporter of the Jacobite rebellions attests to its proximity to the Gaidhealtachd, Scotland's Gaelic-speaking area.

Although Angus remains associated firmly in the public mind with agriculture and fishing, the industrial revolution's impact was just as catalytic, with the explosion in weaving and heavy manufacturing in large part responsible for the shape of the county today. Its mills may have gone, but the people who moved from all over Scotland to man them are still there, rounding off a mongrel culture that embraces history, industry, farming, the lowlands, the highlands, and a work ethic that forged a nation.

Identity, legacy, courage, survival and perpetual regeneration. These are the characteristics that sum up Scotland's birthplace and, as the crowds rolled up to take part in the spectacle of the Queen's Baton Relay, it became clear that the local community figures nominated to hold the symbolic baton were, in fact, charged with carrying Scotland's future through its past and present.

Perched on the very edge of Angus, modern Monifieth's appearance as a quiet commuter town feeding the Dundonian metropolis belies an ancient history. Standing stones attest to its settlement from Pictish times, while a rich array of iron age brochs, hill forts and grave sites stand guard over a landscape that has seen a procession of Romans, Vikings and Scots fight fiercely for its bounty over the course of several millennia.

To outsiders Monifieth - where the relay began - might seem something of an anomaly, its borders so engulfed by an expanding Dundee that it is impossible to see where one ends and the other begins. Ask a resident, however, and they'll point directly to the spot, exhibiting a quiet local pride that has enabled the town to retain its identity.

Residents like Alison McInally, nominated for her work with local sports clubs, is one of them. A highly active local figure running netball teams and disabled riding excursions for schoolchildren, she was nominated to carry the baton through her town after helping thousands of kids get involved in team sports.

It was a point not lost on Councillor Helen Oswald, Provost of Angus, who praised the hundreds of people lining the route despite an inclement and early 8am start, saying: "They are here, despite the weather, because people genuinely feel that they are part of these Games. The folk carrying the baton aren't celebrities or superstars but real local heroes - people who have poured their energies into helping make Angus the place that it is - and that is in large part why we're seeing so much support on the streets today.

"There is a real sense of excitement building as the opening ceremony draws closer. People are determined to use this event as an opportunity to show what Scotland has to offer."

As the baton's convoy made its way along the coast road, propelled by foot, bicycle and car, it passed the Commonwealth shooting venue at Barry Buddon before reaching Carnoustie, home of championship golf, and now firmly back on the international tournament map after several decades in the wilderness. There are many other things that happen here, but you don't often hear about them.

Fortunately, today was different. As the baton passed through the town, hundreds gathered to roar on runners like Ian Wren, in the spotlight for his tireless work raising more than £100,000 for charities Horseback UK and Help for Heroes.

Despite its image as a relatively upmarket seaside golf resort, Carnoustie is a community that exists against the odds. Indeed, when founder Thomas Lowson first rented the land the town now stands on, success was considered so improbable the landowner's wife gave him an immediate discount out of pity.

Yet, as yesterday's relay rolled through a crowded High Street, the Dibble Tree - which took root in 1798 after Lowson stuck a willow stick used for planting cabbages in the ground and forgot about it - still stands as a testimony to a community about much more than golf.

Rolling on, the convoy reached East Haven, one of the oldest recorded fishing communities in Scotland, which was an early Cistercian development currently celebrating its 800th year.

It remains in rude health. With the land it sits on owned by a limited company formed by residents to protect the village and an extremely active community council driving it forward, the hamlet that once provided the backdrop for Queen Elizabeth's childhood holidays remains vibrant. Even here, the tiny population filled the streets as the baton rolled through.

Explaining public enthusiasm for the relay events, Darren Burnett, a member of Scotland's Commonwealth Bowling team and the current world indoor champion, said: "For once, this isn't an event that's dominated by the central belt. With venues stretching up as far as Aberdeen, the Games are touching communities the length and breadth of Scotland, and I think there's a real determination to seize that moment.

"Just look around the kids that have gathered at every place on the relay itinerary. They're excited by the prospect of what's coming to Scotland, and I hope that what they see and hear this summer will inspire them to achievements of their own."

Burnett, a Police officer in Arbroath, was one of the team appointed to carry the baton through the town to its iconic abbey, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1320. The well-kent local figure, due to his sporting prowess, was cheered to the rafters by the thousands lining the burgh's streets, as was young Duncan Reid, an athlete with a learning disability who represents Tayside Special Olympics at Ten Pin Bowling.

This was a bright moment for Arbroath, a town still regenerating, following the loss of its manufacturing businesses in the early 80s. The fishing fleet for which it became famous has been reduced to a handful of boats, but an oversubscribed leisure marina launched as part of a redevelopment initiative a few years ago stands testament to a community determined to redefine both itself and its future.

The show rolled on, leaving the windblown coast behind as it headed into the gentle, rich agricultural landscape of the coastal hinterland. Cutting through Forfar, where another impressive crowd gathered to applaud the likes of Donna Pass, nominated to carry the baton for her encouragement to other runners and the thousands of pounds she helped raise for charity, the procession wended its way through a web of picturesque country lanes to Glamis Castle, childhood home of the Queen Mother.

Greeted at the castle doors by the Earl of Strathmore, the crowds continued to turn up, apparently undeterred by the now relentless downpour. They were marshalled by more than 500 volunteers from across the county, who willingly sacrificed their time in order to play their part.

"You've got a choice when it comes to events like this," said volunteer steward and Glamis resident Brian Webster. "It might never be repeated, so are you going to sit in the house and let it pass you by, or do you want to be a part of it? It was an easy decision for me."

As Abbi Aitken - a cricket internationalist since the age of 14 with more than 50 caps for Scotland - carried the baton beyond the castle walls and on to the road to Kirriemuir, the vast majority of those attending had an answer: they wanted to be part of it.

In Kirriemuir, birthplace of Peter Pan's JM Barrie, amongst the bearers was Philip Aiken, who has dedicated the past decade to coaching, coaxing and encouraging the town's girls' football team.

Rolling through the historic cathedral city of Brechin and cutting back up to the coast to Montrose, the day's final destination, as the event drew to a close it became clear that despite the many differences between the towns through which it had passed, a single unifying theme remained predominant: one of community.

Citizens from every walk of life stepped up to play a role in one of the most ambitious projects Scotland has ever hosted. If these Games are to be a success - and it seems they will be - it will be due in no small part to their efforts.

In less than eight weeks the Commonwealth Games will have been and gone, but their legacy will resound around Scotland for decades to come. Highlighting the work of Baton-bearers like Scott Constantine, a coastguard, coach and volunteer with the local rugby club who also serves with the Montrose Emergency Services Group and runs a Friday night project for local youths, it is not merely a forum for sporting success but also a platform from which to celebrate the achievements of a nation that has confounded the odds for over 2000 years.

One of the Commonwealth Games organiser's chief aims has been to ensure that not only will the event inspire a new generation to pursue sporting excellence, but it should also draw upon the enthusiasm of the entire disparate Scottish population. It's a monumental task, but if the weekend's events in Angus are anything to go by, it's going to be one hell of a show.

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