A Wolverhampton artist and campaigner who has worked tirelessly to support disabled people across the region is to be one of the city’s Batonbearers for the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay.

Dr Paul Darke was described as ‘an inspiration in the West Midlands’ in his Batonbearer nomination, made by his son Walker.

Paul, a wheelchair user since birth, has developed and delivered a number of projects across Wolverhampton on disability, health, heritage, history, theatre, cinema and sculpture.  

His much loved Wolves in Wolves sculpture trail across the city was the largest public art exhibition in Wolverhampton, attracting many visitors and raising £50,000 for a number of local charities.

Paul has also worked to transform sports and fitness in the disabled community. He created Flourish2BU, a volunteer led project helping disabled people to get more fit and improve their health and well being. 

He is also committed to supporting the important work of suicide prevention in the city and plans to develop supportive creative initiatives during the next year including an exhibition at the Light House Media Centre.

Paul said: ‘It is an honour to be a Batonbearer, especially having been nominated by my son who is himself volunteering at the Games. And I look forward to being pushed along the course by my wife Councillor Claire Darke.  

“The spirit of community is alive and well in Wolverhampton and it is a fantastic opportunity to represent the city on this occasion and spread the word of what a great city Wolverhampton is to live, work and play in: the Commonwealth Games epitomises all that is great about our city.”

Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment and climate change, said: “Many congratulations to Paul who works extremely hard for disabled people across our region and was the brains behind the fantastic Wolves in Wolves sculpture trail. 

“The Commonwealth Games will be a major event for us and a great way to show off our city. I would like to wish Paul all the very best for a truly memorable day.”

The Queen’s Baton will be dramatically parachuted in by helicopter on Sunday 24 July, before inspirational Batonbearers take it on a tour of the city – giving them the chance to highlight stories of how they are striving for change in their community. 

The relay will begin at 8am in East Park with a parachute drop by The Wings Parachute Team. It will then be taken on a road relay tour of the city stopping off at a number of key locations including WV Active Aldersley before finishing with celebrations in Queen Square.

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