Sunday 3rd June 2012 wasn’t exactly the most promising day on which to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne but the rather threatening sky, wind and rain did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of East Brent’s residents who were quite determined to enjoy a day of fun and celebration.
Royal Diamond Jubilees don’t happen too often - the last was Queen Victoria’s in 1897 – and it is unlikely that anyone alive today will live to experience another so everyone was wonderfully British and positive and made the most of it, making it a day to remember.
A committee of local people had been planning the event since the start of the year and their aim was to create a traditional, fun event for families which recreated the spirit of the fifties. It wasn’t about fund raising or razz-a-matazz, it was about simple pleasures which were for everyone in the parish – old and young alike - to enjoy without having to worry about expense.
A service of celebration was held at St Mary’s Church to mark the occasion and start the proceedings. Several local businesses had been kind enough to donate money to make it all happen so parents had been given the opportunity to order a free Jubilee Mug for each child in the parish. Families set up their own gazebos, appropriately and colourfully decorated to reflect the occasion, all around the village green from where they could observe the children running egg & spoon and wheelbarrow races, games, fancy dress parades and tugs of war taking place in the central arena. Other activities included face painting and story-telling within a beautifully decorated gazebo where children’s imaginations could run wild; the rumble of balls rolling down the wooden skittle alley and various displays created by different groups within the village, including one set up by the East Brent Parish History Group in the Village Hall, to reflect the changing life and times of a village community.
And, just to ensure that first aid help was available if needed, St John Ambulance members were there too, ready to leap in to action in the event of any accident or fall - quite a possibility in the conditions!
Ed Champion, Chairman of the Parish Council, cut the ribbon to open the event; Rev Simon Lewis nobly did his bit by agreeing to the humiliation of wet sponges being thrown at him in the stocks. The afternoon’s activities drew to a close: it had rained, poured even, the wind had blown but no one moaned; it had been a thoroughly British day when everyone in the parish could come together and celebrate in simple style.
The following day, following the diktats of English Heritage in ensuring no damage was done to a blade of grass on the top of the Knoll, a bonfire was created on top of rolls of turf and then corrugated iron sheets. As evening fell, hundreds of people from the parishes of East Brent and Brent Knoll could be seen, like ants, climbing up to the summit. As the sun went down and darkness fell, a lively sing song got people into the mood and then across the country, as far as the eye could see in every direction, beacons on hilltops lit up to mark a very special and memorable occasion. Everyone there felt a certain pride in being part of the community of East Brent as it celebrated this unique event – a Diamond Jubilee.