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 the 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. They were
meant to hold down the lever which fired the spark that lit the flame.
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
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, or 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 the
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
l 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.