Signpost - Ellingham and Kirby Cane
The Broome-Ellingham bypass obtained planning go-ahead in 1999 after a long campaign by local residents. The project was started in the autumn of 2000 and completed in March 2002. A bridlepath and cycle track was built parallel to the road. Environmental protection included fencing, extensive tree planting and spill capture lagoons.
"Nobody will be interested. They will not turn up. Folk don't care about royalty any more - this is the cynical 21st century", thus predicted the pessimists. And there was a lot of truth in their arguments. Nowadays families have two or more cars and people can be tempted to travel long distances to towns and cities where large events are possible. Stress at work is high and so much time is spent getting to and from work that there is little time left for activities outside the immediate family.
How could a local event hope to compete? Fifty years ago, cars were luxury items. Many people lived close to their place of work, shopped locally and knew most of their neighbours. "Ahhh! Those were the days.", the elders recall nostalgically. Perhaps they were, but perhaps we too might look back at and recall June 2002 through red-white & blue-tinted glasses. The pessimists had missed an import point and, whether or not you are a royalist, it is one the Queen recognised. There had been dramatic changes by the time of the silver jubilee in 1977. Most households had one car, but commuting still had not taken off and people seldom travelled more than four miles to work. Village shops and public houses were closing. There were grounds then for saying the silver jubilee celebrations would fail, but the community joined together and had a great time: I recall pushing Richard, my six foot tall 'baby' in a farcical pram race involving flower bombs and water. The people turned out then, so there could be hope for 2002.
So here we were, 50 years into the Queen's reign. It was suggested there should be celebrations. The parish councils of Ellingham and Kirby Cane decided to join together and have a street party, organised by the people for the people. Would it be a success?The answer was a resounding 'YES!'.
The fun started in the afternoon of June 3rd 2002 with magical entertainment for the children from 'The Great Haraldo' and was followed by a street party. Wheelbarrows raced around the block (modern prams are smaller than those 25 years ago!) with their occupants clinging on, striving to win the coveted prize coin. The partying went on into the night with a ceilidh in the streets to the music from Spick & Span.In a way, the success was surprising when one thinks of the high tech. events available elsewhere. But it is a human need to be part of a community. The Queen realises this and provided us with the catalyst for demonstrating that there is still a strong community spirit. Long may it continue.
On behalf of the two councils, I would like to thank all of the organisers and those of you who attended this event.
Chairman of Kirby Cane Parish Council, 2002