Ashover became a sea of red, white and blue at the weekend as villagers staged their own special celebration to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
A non-stop programme of entertainment and special events designed to cater for people of all ages was voted an outstanding success. “The words ‘fantastic’ and ‘brilliant’ have rarely been heard so many times to describe the wonderful atmosphere in the community as they were on Monday afternoon”, said one member of the organising team.
The celebration certainly proved a red letter occasion for Mrs Edna Halksworth, Ashover’s 1952 Coronation Queen, who rode around the village on Monday afternoon in a vintage car driven by Rosemary Smith.
Edna, who was joined on the ride by parish council chairman Ed Willmot and his wife, Beryl, went on to cut a coloured ribbon to mark the official opening of the festivities.
She was presented with a floral bouquet by Ashover’s own May Queen and King, Phoebe Hanauer and Laurie Kelly and then jumped back into her car to judge entries in the scarecrow trail. The winning display by the Scott family on Moor Road depicted the Queen in her royal bed as now-infamous intruder Michael Fagin climbed through her window.
The procession from and to the parish hall was led by Ashover Brass Band which was followed closely by the ‘royal car’, decorated bicycles and push chairs, locals in both fancy and 50s dress, representatives from several local clubs and organisations, standard bearers of the village’s Millennium and Stonedge Chapel banners and the village’s best-loved resident at any event – Maud the donkey, with her owner, Penny Marsden, and helpers.
The sun shone as Cllr Willmot paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s long and distinguished service to the nation, the Rector of Ashover, the Revd. Ralph Lawrence, led the community in prayer and Kelstedge wordsmith Marion Bingham read the poem she was commissioned to write for the occasion. Town crier Merrick Bull was MC for the ceremony.
Once the formal proceedings were over, parishioners launched into a programme of three-legged football refereed by Wayne Carline, a ‘hole in one’ competition organised by Stanedge Golf Club, a family treasure hunt designed by Richard Felton, a scarecrow trail organized by Claire Bonsall and Jenny Hammond, a make-and-decorate Jubilee crowns and badges workshop with Sheena Clark and Jane Hardwick, a 50s tea dance in the Parish Hall with Andrew and Susan King, and an exhibition of 50s memorabilia, old village photographs and records collated by David and Molly Chatfield which prompted a non-stop series of nostalgic chats.
Centre of attention in the parish hall was a five-tier iced Jubilee cake topped with a golden coronet produced by members of Amber Valley (Ashover) WI which was formally cut by the club’s oldest member, retired district nurse and midwife Mrs Chris Steeples, now 92. Portions were then distributed to parishioners. WI president Aileen Taylor explained: “Six members each baked a cake and it was then put together and decorated by most members of the Institute under the watchful eye of Mrs Barbara Howard. We had many wonderful comments about it.”
Most popular attraction of the afternoon was a traditional ‘bring your own food’ street party down the length of the parish hall car park which was such a success that organisers ran short of chairs and table space. Partygoers were served by a team of volunteers headed by Brenda Shaw.
Later in the day, music for dancing in the hall was provided by the Andrew Gannon band, Captain Jack and Therapy. The evening ended with a fireworks display organized by Ian Cooke and helpers.
Ashover’s Jubilee celebrations actually began on Sunday when Grove House residential home hosted a party - but a planned open-air service of thanksgiving conducted by the Rector was staged inside the parish hall because of the bad weather. Ashover band provided the music and prayers were led by Stonedge Chapel’s Philip White. Members of Ashover Celebration Choir and Stonedge Chapel joined forces with All Saints’ Church Acorns group, to present celebration songs with actions.
Highlight of the service was a ‘timeline’ of key events from all six decades since the coronation which saw youngsters in appropriate dress peg information about
major events in history on a rope. Their efforts won warm words of praise from both the Rector and the congregation.
The Jubilee programme was drawn up by a team appointed by the Parish Council and co-ordinated by Rosemary Early who said this week:” We were really concerned when it began to rain on Sunday but need not have worried because the sun shone on Monday, it was dry and the whole community came together to share their love for Queen Elizabeth. It was a truly special celebration . . . one we shall never forget.”