Ashover’s 1952 Coronation Queen to star in diamond celebrations

Edna Halksworth shows Jubilee programme co-ordinator Rosemary Early the coronet she originally wore in 1952 and will wear again at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration in Ashover in June.
Edna Halksworth shows Jubilee programme co-ordinator Rosemary Early the coronet she originally wore in 1952 and will wear again at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration in Ashover in June.

Sixty years after she stole the limelight as Ashover’s Coronation Queen, 74-year-old Edna Halksworth is to play a high profile role in village celebrations to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Edna, of Yew Croft Farm, Stone Edge, will star in a parish anniversary programme on Monday, June 4, that will see her ride through the streets in a 1928 open-top Austin tourer, cut the ribbon to officially open the celebration and help to choose the winners of various competitions.

What’s more, she will wear the same jewelled coronet she sported back in 1952 when she was 15-year-old Edna Keeton, lived at Span Carr and worked at the Chester Street branch of the local Co-op in Chesterfield.

Memories of that wet Coronation Day flooded back this week as Edna recalled how she rode through Ashover on the back of a lorry with her attendants after being crowned by Mrs Hill, a local JP, and made a stop in Butts Road to present her floral bouquet to a Mrs Keeling who was celebrating her 100th birthday.

“In return, she gave me the most wonderful mother of pearl shell as a souvenir of the day. I still keep it in my bedroom,” said Edna. “That evening, I should have lit the Coronation bonfire on the Fabric but it was so wet that somebody very kindly did it for me.”

Edna was 20 when she married local farmer Ernest Halksworth who died eight years ago. She now has a son, Peter, twin daughters Julie and Jane, and six grandchildren, several of whom live locally and are expected to help celebrate Edna’s second Royal tour of the village.

Edna will definitely be joined on the big day by this year’s village May King Laurie Kelly, May Queen Phoebe Hanauer and their attendants - though the very youngest will join the parade at the bottom of Church Street for the return to the Parish Hall where most events will be staged.

The finishing touches are now being put to the Jubilee programme which will feature Ashover Band and include a scarecrow trail, treasure hunt, sporting events, a tea dance, memorabilia exhibition, and a ‘bring your own food’ street party down the length of the village car park. Music from two local bands and a ‘quiet fireworks’ display will bring the day to a close. Because of safety regulations, early plans to have a lighted beacon on the Fabric have had to be shelved.

Sunday, June 3, will see a tea-time, open-air service of thanksgiving on the village playing field and the celebration will end on Tuesday, June 5, with a ‘party in a pew’ at All Saints Church when events in London, including the official procession from Saint Paul’s Cathedral, will be shown on a large screen.

Ashover’s Jubilee celebrations are being sponsored by the Parish Council, Parochial Church Council, local organisations, businesses and individuals.