Closing the curtain on the Bath Games and launching the legacy

December 16, 2013IMG_2147-low

 

Bath Guildhall was the venue for a celebration of the Volunteers of the Bath 2013 National Summer Games hosted by Councillor Neil Butters, Head of Bath & North East Somerset Council on the evening of 11 December 2013.

The Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games, which take place every four years, were based this summer at the University of Bath. 1,700 athletes from England, Scotland and Wales competed in 12 sports over the three days of competition in August.

“The National Summer Games were a marvellous event for both Bath and Bristol,” said Cllr Neil Butters. “During the Games I spectated at many of the competitions and presented medals during the award ceremonies – they were tremendous occasions. The Games were a great success for Bath. A lot of people who had never been to this part of the country came to watch the Games and are looking forward to visiting again.”

A message from Karen Wallin, Chief Executive of Special Olympics GB who was unable to attend the event, was read out: “I want to take this opportunity to thank Cllr Butters for hosting this evening and for giving us the opportunity to gather again in Bath and celebrate the success of the Summer Games.

“Thank you to all our volunteers for so generously supporting the Games this summer. We really could not have delivered the Games without you. Time and again the fabulous attitude and spirit of our volunteers has been quoted as one of the highlights of the Games. You were brilliant.

“And of course on behalf of all the families and athletes who came to Bath in August, I want to say a big thank you to all our local sponsors and those who worked so hard at the University of Bath and BANES to give the 2013 Games a home. You took the Special Olympics movement to your hearts and made it your own. You treated our families like royalty and our athletes like stars – you have helped to transform lives.”

Chris Maloney, MBE, who founded the Special Olympics in Britain 35 years ago, was at the Guildhall to meet the volunteers. He reflected that the Special Olympics movement started in a very small and very local way and there was little publicity for the athletes’ achievements. “Attitudes have changed,” said Chris, “we call our competitors ‘athletes’ and they get their names in the paper. Publicity makes a difference and Special Olympics made that happen. It’s not just about the sport – it is changing attitudes.”

Chris-Maloney,-MBE,-founder-of-Special-Olympics-Great-Britain-with-Councillor-Neil-Butters,-Chair-of-BANES-Council

Tom Smith, Partnership Manager, Special Olympics GB briefly set out for the attendees the development programme that the movement will be progressing in the South West to provide more opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to get involved in sports training and competition. Bob Billson, Development Manager, thanked Bath Rugby Foundation and Three Ways School for their support in helping to launch Special Olympics in the local area.

Gaye Barber, National Volunteer Manager, commented: “This celebration event for our Games volunteers formally brings down the curtain on the Bath 2013 Games but it is just the start for the South West.”

While Clyve performed an acoustic version of the song ‘Living our dream’ which he co-wrote with Jon Birch for the Games, Cllr Butters formally handed over the Special Olympics GB flag to Stasui and Jasui Kuchciski, Special Olympics athletes from Bristol. The flag will next be flown in four years, at the 10th National Summer Games in 2017.

The location for the 2017 Games will be announced next year.

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