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The community spirit shone as brightly as the beacon bonfire last week when Southend celebrated Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
A four-day packed programme of events to mark The Queen’s historic 70-year reign was organised by a sub-committee of Southend Community Council led by Inez Ronald and Louise Millar, who co-ordinated a tremendous team of more than 50 volunteers.
The celebrations began last Thursday night with a bonfire on Dunaverty beach, by kind permission of James Barbour.
Jim Martin, Deputy-Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute, lit the fire at the event organised by Southend Scout Group.
Complimentary prosecco, soft drinks and snacks, funded by the ‘Southend Celebrates’ committee, were served to the more than 200 people in attendance, while Erin Soudan played the bagpipes.
The merriment continued on Friday night at a ceilidh in the village hall, with traditional band Rhuvaal supported by Colin Ronald.
About 150 people of all ages attended, from two-month-old baby Ryan Graham to many senior members of the community.
The sun shone on Saturday for a royal tea party in a gazebo on Southend Playing Field, which was attended mostly by village seniors but anyone with a Southend connection was warmly welcomed.
This was the first event attended by many since the start of the pandemic, and this helped renew old friendships.
Tickets for the event were complimentary and the entire afternoon tea for more than 100 people was provided from community baking donations.
Throughout the afternoon there was a fantastic programme of dancing, singing and live music, thanks to singers Erin Soudan and Hannah Millar, Campbeltown Brass, Highland dancers from James McCorkindale’s School of Dancing and young dancers under the tutelage of Morgan Irwin.
On Sunday morning Reverend Steve Fulcher hosted Southend Parish Church’s service in the gazebo, with Campbeltown Brass providing live music, before everyone moved outside for an afternoon of fun and games.
They were joined by more than 1,000 people, including residents from Southend, Campbeltown, Glenbarr and Carradale, as well as holidaymakers including an American couple who stopped in after seeing the bunting, banners and balloons at the roadside.
Fun races included egg and spoon, wheelbarrow, sack races, the ‘dinky dash’ for under fives, a parent and toddler piggyback race and a family royal relay race to finish.
A tug-of-war for the children and a welly-boot-throwing competition finished off the afternoon’s games.
There was also beat the goalie, face painting by Funky Chicken, a craft table to make a crown, colouring in, badge-making and a treasure hunt.
Entertainment was courtesy of Terry Leahy and his band, Campbeltown Brass and Kintyre Schools Pipe Band.
Sunday’s fun day was open to all, with complimentary food funded by the Southend Celebrates committee provided by Olly McLean.
There were also four tables laden with community food donations, mini Muneroy meringues to enjoy with strawberries and cream and complimentary soft drinks.
Both the marquee and village hall were beautifully decorated with more than 200m of floral bunting, handmade by local ladies.
Most of the jubilee events and refreshments served at them were free, aside from the £10 tickets for Friday’s ceilidh which were subsidised, thanks to funding from The National Lottery Community Fund and the enormous generosity of the Southend community donating food, time and support.
‘Southend Community Council wanted to organise an event for our village to be able to come together and really celebrate as a community for the first time after a difficult couple of years,’ said a Southend Celebrates committee spokesperson.
‘We wanted to make sure there was something for everyone to enjoy, from the youngest children taking part in the fun races and crafts on Sunday through to our senior afternoon tea on Saturday, enjoyed by many residents in their 80s and 90s.
‘We would like to say a huge thank you to all the incredible local volunteers who made the weekend possible and to all who attended and supported our events, making Southend Celebrates such a success.’
John Bakes, convener of Southend Community Council, added: ‘I would like to give our sincere thanks to all the volunteers who helped to ensure The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in Southend were such a huge success.
‘I will not name individuals as so many residents came together to ensure the celebrations went ahead, each one was a vital link in the chain; organisers, caterers and home bakers, servers, door staff, bar staff, car park attendants, bonfire builders, Scouts, musicians and many, many more.
‘These celebrations will be remembered for many years to come and I repeat my thanks to everyone who took part. It makes me very proud to be a part of such a great community.’