A jewel in the crown of our jubilee celebrations
Last updated at 22:52, Thursday, 14 June 2012
After four full days of covering jubilee events I threatened last week to become a republican.
It was only a joke, because when you see how the country and our local communities came together to celebrate this event, I think it would be hard to be anything but a royalist!
I had intended to write this column before the jubilee weekend even started, if only to single out the village of Dearham.
I only covered events in the Maryport and Aspatria areas, so if anyone else did as well as Dearham I apologise in advance.
From what I saw, however, this was the village that not only knew how to party but had enough community spirit to pull together three full days packed with events.
There were about a dozen people organising it. They were not councillors or event management teams or companies with a vested interest. They were just members of the community who felt that the Queen’s 60th year on the throne was something that should be celebrated.
Where the community played its part was in supporting the events. Three hundred people at a church service is too rare an event now, but that is how many attended the ecumenical service of thanksgiving for the Queen on Sunday.
Evening events, aimed at the adults, were booked out and a family fun day on Monday attracted up to 600 people.
Every age group was catered for, from climbing walls for teenagers to the carnival for all the family.
The other delightful thing about the Dearham experience was that everything that could be was free and the rest was charged at knockdown, affordable family prices.
If there was anyone else who had no fewer than eight different events over three days all run by the same people, I do apologise for missing you out. But if you did not, I am sure you will join me in crowning Dearham our jubilee venue of the year.
Having said that, Dearham has created a bit of a problem for itself.
So many people at the weekend asked if this kind of celebration could be an annual event, perhaps run in conjunction with the carnival.
I can imagine committee members blanching at the thought!
On the Saturday, when I turned up for the carnival, I was greeted by happy, enthusiastic and energetic committee members.
On the Monday I found some of them slumped on chairs – still happy but definitely exhausted. Thank goodness they had Tuesday to recover.
I was quite surprised when someone asked me if I didn’t think the whole jubilee had been a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“I hope the Queen is paying for it out of her own purse,” I was told.
I think that is wrong.
For a start, would an 86-year-old woman REALLY want a massive pop concert outside her front door? And, especially, did she want it on the very day that her husband had been admitted to hospital?
I don’t think so! That concert was not for the Queen, it was for us and for the TV companies.
The flotilla was something she probably enjoyed and maybe she could have paid for her own barge. But surely, after 60 years of service and no sign of retirement yet, we could afford to give her something.
As for the church service and the lunches to which all the family were invited – well, I have NEVER asked a guest to pay for a meal in my house and I am sure the City of London is the same.
Apparently the Queen costs every British taxpayer 60p a year, which I think is money well spent. Just say, to pay off the jubilee, this year’s expenditure amounts to £2.60 each? I am still happy to pay, and also quite prepared to pay for the person who thinks it was a waste of money.
My friend’s point (and she is still a friend) was that we are in the middle of a recession, unemployment is at a high and people are living on the breadline.
All that is true. It was true yesterday and will be true again tomorrow.
If by not holding the jubilee celebrations we could solve all these problems I would have been marching on Parliament to make sure that was the case.
But whether we celebrated the Queen’s 60 years on the throne or not made little difference to the homeless or the families who have lost children in Syria. It didn’t find a cure for cancer or lead to world peace.
What it did, however, was see communities like Dearham come together. It saw street parties where neighbours met, sometimes for the first time, and perhaps became more aware of someone else’s needs.
It made the vast majority of us happy and, for that, thank you Your Majesty!
First published at 19:23, Thursday, 14 June 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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