PONTEFRACT Castle played a major part in the national celebration of the Queen’s diamond jubilee with the lighting of a beacon during an evening of festivities.
More than 4,000 residents flocked to the historic site to watch the beacon lighting ceremony – one of 2,012 across the country – which was part of Wakefield Council’s official celebration on Monday.
The celebrations at the castle included an afternoon picnic in the grounds – with a magician, a Punch and Judy show, live music and a bouncy castle – followed by an evening performance by the West Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra, firework display and the beacon lighting.
Coun Denise Jeffery, who lit the beacon, said: “I was very proud to light the beacon for the district and be a part of a fantastic day of celebrations to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee.
“The lively atmosphere saw everyone come together, get involved and have a great time.
“It was an extraordinary event which lit up the district.”
Emily Viney, ten, and Isobelle Viney, seven, winners of a kings and queens fancy dress competition helped Coun Jeffery light the beacon.
Residents and school children across the district joined in the fun with a range of festivities to mark the diamond jubilee.
More than 700 pupils from King’s School in Pontefract took part in a day of activities on Friday and a special bench and silver birch tree will be installed in the school grounds next term to mark the jubilee.
Julie Craig, headteacher, said: “It was a great day and a great tribute to a great queen.
“With our royal connections dating back hundreds of years, we were delighted to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee in style.
“Although the weather showered on our plans for a huge picnic party on the field, it did not dampen the spirit of the day.”
Resident of all ages were determined to party despite the weather, including the residents cared for by the Pontefract and Ackworth Almshouse Charity who celebrated in their community garden, off Halfpenny Lane, in Pontefract.
Andrea Rockett, secretary of the charity, said: “It was a very lively day and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing our oldest resident, Bill Parkes, who is 97, plant a maple tree in the garden to mark the diamond jubilee.
“We raised £500 in February at a coffee morning in Barclays in Pontefract so we could hold this event and we were delighted to see all the residents come together and enjoy it.”
Other jubilee fundraising events included staff at the Bonmarché branch in Pontefract who held a cupcake stall on Saturday and raised £200 for Macmillan Cancer Support.
l Turn to pages 20, 21 and 22 for more jubilee celebrations.