About 300 people cheered as a beacon was lit in Uckfield last night to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday.
One of the proudest people there was Ron Cragg who joined the Mayor of Uckfield Cllr Louise Eastwood in igniting the flame at the Victoria Pleasure Ground.
Ron celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this month, was married in the same year as the Queen and his daughter was born in the same year as Prince Charles.
He said he was very proud to light the beacon. “The Queen is a lovely lady. I don’t know how she can do all the things she does. I am satisfied to sit down and have a look around.”
Looking on equally proudly were Mr Cragg’s son Martin and granddaughter Rebecca, who live at Piltdown, and staff from Abbeyfield Horsted Keynes where Mr Cragg lives.
He moved to the area about a year ago from Preston in Lancashire to be nearer his son and said he was enjoying being here.
Planning of last night’s Uckfield celebration was led by Cllr Diane Ward who said she had many people to thank for their help, particularly the Uckfield Carnival and Bonfire Society who prepared the beacon.
Uckfield Performance Ensemble played as crowds gathered and there were refreshments in the pavilion.
Cllr Ward said she was grateful too for the support of Cllr Mick Dean, chair of the council’s environment and leisure commitee who led three cheers for the Queen last night.
Cllr Ward said it was a privilege to meet Ron Cragg, and hear his stories, as he represented 90-year-olds everywhere at the lighting of the beacon.
Before the beacon was lit Cllr Ward read out a message from Prince Charles which said: “I am delighted that so many people throughout the United Kingdom are coming together to light beacons in celebration of my mother, The Queen’s 90th birthday.
“It is a wonderful gesture which I know has deeply toucher Her Majesty.
“Beacons are to be lit on mountaintops, on beaches, in farmyards and on church towers uniting us all in our heartfelt appreciation of The Queen’s lifetime of service to the United Kingdom and other realms and to the Commonwealth.
“Since time immemorial, the light of beacons has relayed important messages across the land. This message we proclaim with the greatest pride and affection:
“Your Majesty we all wish you a very happy birthday.”
• The Uckfield beacon will be lit again on Saturday, June 11, when there will be an even bigger celebration of the Queen’s official birthday.
Cllr Ward said the theme would be Nine Decades of Party in the Park. Different groups would be entertaining and picking music from each of nine decades to play.
If you are interested in getting involved spaces are still available.
Planning of the event is still int he early stages but there will also be a barbecue, beer tent and bouncy castles.
Cllr Ward said she was hoping that as many people from town as possible would turn out.
“I am really pleased there was such a good turnout tonight. I think about 300 people came along.”
• Holy Cross Church bells also rang out last night to celebrate the Queen’s birthday.
• Uckfield Performance Ensemble will be putting on an Evening of Entertainment at Maresfield Village Hall tomorrow, starting at 5pm, to raise funds for the group. There will be music, refreshments and a raffle with tickets costing £5 for an adult and £2.50 for a child.
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