Back in 2018 we embraced an ambition that when the world came calling for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, we would be ready to show off the very best of England, here in our beautiful district. And ready we were, thanks to the determination of a committed team, which drew together our local councils and emergency services, as well as our ‘can do’ businesses and community groups.
Witnessing the faces of thousands of visitors beaming as they joined the vibrant Games events in Leamington and Warwick was proof positive that the hard work had paid off. It was clear from the outset that the magic touch came from the heroes of these friendly Games, the hundreds of local volunteers who seemed to be everywhere giving such a generous and genuine welcome.
An estimated 17,000 guests from 25 nations visited over the nine days of Lawn Bowls and Para Lawn Bowls competitions. Millions more across the globe watched the TV coverage showcasing Royal Leamington Spa and the Victoria Park greens in all their glory. In Warwick, thousands of visitors embraced the thrill and excitement of the men’s and women’s cycling road races providing a memorable Games finale. During the day the international TV coverage broadcast pictures of Warwick looking absolutely stunning, given colour and life thanks to a carnival generated by some 30,000 people who lined the streets for an all-day party.
And for those who wanted to stay local to enjoy the Games, our busy festival sites in the Pump Room Gardens and Warwick Market Square provided a family-friendly space to watch all the action on the big screens. A range of activities and entertainment were also available from volleyball, yoga and bowls to stilt walkers and live music, which proved popular with all ages. It was such a buzz to be able to gather and share together the excitement of watching the heroics of our local medal winning athletes Lewis Williams (Gold boxing), Sarah-Jane Perry (Silver and Bronze squash) and Lauren Cox (2 Bronze swimming relay).
I recognise though that the impact of hosting the Commonwealth Games has been mixed for our local businesses, with those close to the venues and hospitality businesses on the cycle route undoubtedly benefitting the most.
These continue to be difficult times for our high streets, and I want to thank wholeheartedly our business community for the steadfast support given over many months as we prepared to host this major international event.
I understand too that over the years of preparation, road closures and other inconveniences have been frustrating for us all. I sincerely hope that on reflection you’d agree that it has been worthwhile in the end, with us benefitting not only from many happy Games memories, but a positive legacy which strengthens our community for years to come.
The secret is out now, that we live in the most extraordinary and beautiful corner of the Commonwealth. We did this together, many thanks one and all!
By Cllr Andrew DayLeader, Warwick District Council.