Diamond Jubilee street parties can plant seeds of new community spirit in London

15:23 08 June 2012

The Diamond Jubilee Beacon at All Saints

The Diamond Jubilee Beacon at All Saints' Church, Ealing. Picture: Tom Moore uploaded via iWitness24

(c) copyright citizenside.com

The Diamond Jubilee has the potential to plant the seeds of a new community spirit all over London.

As the thousands of pictures have shown, streets came together to party to celebrate the Queen’s 60 years on the throne.

In London, many people don’t speak to their neighbours and a street party might have been the first time they did this.

Even if it just means that they exchange pleasantries it is a step towards a more integrated community.

The weekend began with the Family Festival in Hyde Park, which saw thousands of people from far and wide descend on the royal park.

The main attractions for children in the Disney and Butlins tent proved to be very popular, with queues forming a long time in advance.

The likes of Walkers, Cadburys and Colgate were there with activities and free samples of their products to help entertain adults and children alike.

My favourite part of the event was the Tigers Motorcycle Display Team, which had children aged 13 and under perform stunts on motorbikes.

The highlight of the event was when two riders jumped over a parked car. Maybe not Evel Kneivel distance but very impressive for their age.

The performers at the Commonwealth Stage were also entertaining and their songs could be heard across the park.

Given the volume of people turning up, naturally there were lines but this was to be expected as these events do feature the Great British tradition of queuing.

Food was another issue. The free samples at all the stands were enough to keep you going, but for a full meal the queues were very long. Indeed, as we’d finished doing everything we wanted to do, we went to ECCo on Strutton Ground near Westminster for food, which was excellent value for money and a hidden gem in London.

Don’t just take my word for it, here is what a young person thought of the event.

Meghan Moore, 13, said: “I really enjoyed going to the Hyde Park Jubilee Family Festival because there was a lot to do there.

“It was very interactive which was fun and wherever you went there was something to do or see.

“The big screens on the side of the stages were also helpful because then you could see what was going on.

“The acts that were performing were varied so you wouldn’t get bored.

“My favourite part of the day was getting to learn the Charleston [at the Alfresco stand] because it was something that you wouldn’t usually get to do and because it was really interesting. It was a lot of fun.

“My least favourite part was queuing because it meant I had to stand up for ages but that couldn’t really be helped because of the amount of people present.

“I liked the idea of a passport because it meant you had a chance to go around and see different parts of the festival and it gave you something to aim for rather than just wandering around aimlessly.

“I really liked being able to get free samples of the things at the stands rather than having to buy something to get a stamp.

“I also liked that you had acts wandering around so you always got to see or hear something.”

Indeed, the queuing seemed to be the biggest disappointment of the day, through some of the responses on Twitter.

Marie Tyrell tweeted: “disappointing They shut the Disney tent at 330 and the queue for kids show was over two hrs,1 hr+ for food.”

Paul Goodmaker added on the social network site: “Was awful, long queues for everything, disney tent closed 2.30 without warning, awful experience with kids.”

Sunday saw the boat pageant with 1.25million people lining the river to catch a glimpse of the Queen go by.

Sadly, the Great British weather intervened and put a downer on the day, and many believe this to be the cause for Prince Philip’s illness, although Buckingham Palace has denied this.

Monday saw a host of street parties taking place across London, with many dressing in Union Jack themed outfits.

At the street party I went to in Ealing, we were entertained by singer/songwriter Daina Ashmore, who lives in the street.

“It was a lot of fun,” she told London24. “It was like one of the smaller festivals I’ve played at so it was quite nice.

“I’m playing at the Kensington Roof Gardens on June 22 and I gig around wherever I can.

“I feel my style is a bit of folk and rock with a bit of country in there too. I like the fact it grabs a few little genres.

“I like writing. X Factor is good but it’s only about the voice.

“I’ve been a singer/songwriter for a good 10 years. I’ve come into myself as a songwriter in the last couple of years.

“It’s a bit hard to get people to buy CDs anymore. I’m on iTunes, Amazon and have a website. It’s gone that way now.

“You just want people to start listening to music. It was a nice street party, I gave away about 25 CDs and it’d be nice to develop a local fanbase.”

The evening saw the Buckingham Palace concert, with Madness wowing the crowd with Our House and It Must Be Love on top of the Queen’s residence.

The most impressive aspect of it was seeing Buckingham Palace illuminated in a raft of colour.

The concert finished with the Queen lighting the final Jubilee beacon after many others across the land were lit.

I was lucky enough to be given access to All Saints’ Church tower to film a close up of the lighting (click on the video above to see it being lit).

Like the Olympic flame brings countries together, the Jubilee beacon brought communities closer together than ever before.

My thanks go to the organisers of the Jubilee Family Festival for allowing my niece and I to come. The organisers of the street party in Elm Crescent, Ealing and MC, Mr. John Beadle. Special thanks go to Associate Reverend Justin Dodd and his team at All Saints’ Church, Ealing, for allowing me to have a close-up film of the beacon being lit.

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