Council to offer jubilee bonfire help

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COUNCIL staff will be able to advise those wanting a bonfire to help celebrate when the Queen marks her diamond jubilee in June.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) convener, Alasdair Hutton, told last week’s January meeting of Scottish Borders Council about the offer when he outlined preparations for this summer’s special royal anniversary.

On February 6 the Queen will celebrate six decades as sovereign. “This country has not seen a similar anniversary since June 20, 1897, when Queen Victoria celebrated her diamond jubilee,” said Mr Hutton.

The nation will pay tribute over an extended holiday weekend from June 2 to 5. The Queen will also officially celebrate her 86th birthday on June 4.

The official programme is that the Queen will attend the Derby horse race on Saturday, June 2 – the 60th anniversary of her coronation.

The next day, people across the country are being invited to take part in the “Big Lunch” to get as many people as possible enjoying a meal with neighbours on the same day.

That same day, the royal barge will lead a 1,000-strong flottila making a 7.5 mile journey along the Thames to Tower Bridge. The Borders will be represented by craft from Eyemouth.

Monday, June 4 will be set aside for local celebrations around the country and that night at 10pm, the Queen will light the first of a chain of beacons which will flare up the country – not triggered by line of sight as they would have been done in Queen Victoria’s day, but by mobile phonecalls.

There will be one formal beacon in the Borders, on Dun Rig, south of Innerleithen.

On Tuesday, June 5, the Queen will attend a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Mr Hutton said he had agreed with the Borders’ three lord lieutenants – Major Alexander Trotter in Berwickshire; Captain the Hon Gerald Maitland-Carew in Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale; and Captain David Younger in Tweeddale – that they will take the lead in the celebrations in the three lieutenancies across the Borders.

Celebrations can take any form and the usual small grants are available for community activities. Some communities are already planning fundraising events to help cover any costs.

Mr Hutton added that a team of staff in the environment and infrastructure department of the council will be available to give advice on the safe construction of beacons and bonfires.

SBC has approved a holiday on June 4 for all employees, including teachers, to mark the diamond jubilee. It will cost the council £62,000.