Beacon celebrates jubilee

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 08:39 04/06/2012

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With a hearty round of God Save the Queen and three cheers, the first beacon to mark the Queen's 60 years on the throne was lit in Blenheim this morning.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman and Blenheim South Rotary Club member and beacon organiser Jeff Sewell got the brazier lit as a ceremonial symbol of a larger beacon on the Wither Hills. The light on the Wither Hills is run by a generator because of the risk of fire.

The Blenheim beacon is one of about 4000 around Britain and the Commonwealth being lit to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

About 60 people gathered before 6am at the Alzheimer's Centre off Taylor Pass Rd to watch the beacon being lit and then took part in a full English breakfast.

Among them was Sylvia Minogue, wrapped in a Union Jack flag. She and husband Warren Minogue had planned on being in London for the Queen's Jubilee but had to postpone so Mr Minogue could have a knee operation.

"I'm here because I'm English," she said. "This is the sort of thing that only happens once in a lifetime."

Tania Jones and her two sons, Noah, 7, and Ryan, 5, came to the beacon lighting because the boys' father was in the air force.

"We see the Queen on the wall when we visit Dad at the officers' mess at Woodbourne," Mrs Jones said. "She's Dad's boss."

Pat Parkinson said she was there because she loved the Queen and the pageantry. She had watched some of the jubilee celebrations on television before coming out this morning.

"The Queen looked so happy. She was smiling from ear to ear."

She and friends Jenny and Peter Olliver had been out to high tea at Raupo yesterday to celebrate the Queen's Birthday as well.

Mr Sowman told the gathering that he could not remember the Queen's coronation, only being five at the time, but the beacon lighting was an important link between Marlborough and the rest of the Commonwealth.

Marlborough had royal permission to light the fire at 6am, rather than the 10pm when other beacons were being lit, so it was likely the beacon lit this morn-ing was the first in the world.

"We have a group in London, the boys from Marlborough Boys' College, who rowed in the jubilee regatta, and they'll be in Marlborough, Wiltshire, for their beacon lighting ceremony. So this completes the circle."

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- The Marlborough Express

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