A hitch as the beacon is lit again

June 2012 (2)



AS the Town Mayor of Nantwich, Cllr Graham Fenton, tries - and fails - to light the floral beacon (left), Alderman Doug Butterill insists he can do it . . .  (right).

CONSIDERING that a little over 400 years ago, the townspeople of Nantwich were fighting a fire which devastated a large part of the town centre, the modern-day residents are having a little trouble with flames at the moment. As was an invited guest . . .

    Following a ceremony in The Square on May 31, in which the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire (David Briggs) had to have two or three tries to complete the task of lighting the beacon, the Town Mayor of Nantwich (Cllr Graham Fenton) had similar trouble on Bank Holiday Monday (June 4).

    Both the Lord Lieutenant and the Town Mayor failed to keep the disposable lighter they had been given alight long enough to complete the task - despite advice from Alderman Butterill.

    The problem was made all the worse on Bank Holiday Monday by the fact that the flame in the centre of the floral beacon had to be burning by precisely 10.26pm to fit in with a schedule designed by the Queen's Pageant Master so that beacons throughout the country and around the world came alight in order. The aim was for the beacon lit by the Queen at Buckingham Palace to be the one that completed the chain of fire.


EARLIER, Doug Butterill told the crowd that on the previous Thursday, 500 schoolchildren had watched the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire light the floral beacon. He added: “This evening is the official time for the beacon to be lit – to be precise, at 10.26pm. There are more than 4,000 beacons throughout the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom, making it the biggest event of its kind – ever.

   “But we in Nantwich have to be different. Whereas other beacons, when they are lit, will burn for about half-an-hour, an hour, our beacon will bloom all summer. But when the Town Mayor of Nantwich lights the beacon it will become a unique flaming, floral beacon. The only one of its kind in the world.”

   The Town Mayor (Cllr Graham Fenton) said: “Thank you to all the people who have turned out tonight. Yes, it is a great honour. A once-in-a-lifetime event. Sixty years – I don’t think I’ll see another celebration in 60 years’ time; I’m too old.

   “I like Nantwich. It’s a wonderful place; and this is a wonderful setting.  When you come down Beam Street and see the trees and the open space, you see the town Square here and the “Cathedral of South Cheshire” (St Mary’s Church), and you realise what a fantastic place Nantwich is.“ (“Hear, hear”).  “We need to look after it.”

   As the Town Mayor climbed the ladder to light the beacon, Doug Butterill called for a countdown by the people assembled in The Square.  A cheer followed . . . but the lighter failed to light. Doug commented: “It (the lighter) worked this afternoon.” After further tries, Doug told the Town Mayor: “Come down. I’ll do it.” A second countdown led to the beacon being lit, to a round of applause, the singing of The National Anthem and three cheers.   


THE flame - which, for safety reasons, cannot be left burning - will be lit one more time. That will be when the North-West in Bloom judges visit the town in July, to show them what is believed to be a unique display.  













The beacon flame is burning well as Alderman Butterill, his wife (Cllr Penny Butterill) and the Town Mayor pose for a picture.



Below, a section of the public who turned out for the ceremony.

Nantwich in Bloom index | the Lord Lieutenant lights the floral beacon

Students end event on a sweet note

AS the crowd started to make their way home, the happy talk was intermingled with some singing. Pinpointing the area the voices were emanating from, Cllr Fenton homed in and asked if they were trained singers. They said they were students of Chetham's School of Music, Manchester. They agreed to a request from the Town Mayor to sing something before they left The Square.

   They first sang where they were standing, but their brilliant performance led to a further request for them to sing with the floral beacon as a backdrop. So they sang once more, and it wasn't just people in the town centre who heard them. Volunteers from The Cat Community Radio, who were relaying the beacon-lighting ceremony to their listeners, kept the live broadcast going. Members of the public captured the moment with their cameras.   


Pictures: Top, the Town Mayor listens to the music he requested.  Above, the Town Mayor and Doug Butterill talk to the students after the second song.


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