Around 1,000 residents were in full voice when they joined in the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations at Tonbridge Castle last Thursday.
The original festivities, announced by the borough council, were scheduled to be a fairly low key affair with just one highlight – the lighting of a beacon.
But with just three days to go, friends Suzannah Niklas and Pam Mills, who both live in the town, decided the Monarch’s birthday was worth more of a party atmosphere and set about galvanising the community. But even they were amazed by the response.
During the day, stores in the town, including Gorgeous George gift store and Pavilion Flowers, as well as pubs, proudly flew bunting. As Mayor Owen Baldock lit the beacon, which was one of his final official duties in his year in office, nine year-old Kiah Spurle sang Happy Birthday to the Queen.
The young Tonbridge singer, who has appeared in West End musical The Dreamers, said she was ‘very proud’ to be singing for the occasion.
There were also performances by Tonbridge Community Singers and some traditional Cockney sing-alongs from Tom Carradine, who led crowds in a rousing rendition of God Save the Queen.
Borough councillor Vivian Branson produced 200 cupcakes for the event, and Beyond the Grounds Café provided more refreshments for the audience on the castle lawn.
Suzannah Niklas thanked everyone who had taken part in “a great evening,” adding that she knew that her friend Pam was the only person she could have turned to in order to arrange celebrations in just four days.
Pam, a youth officer for Tonbridge’s Royal British Legion, also offered her praise to residents.
She said: “I just wanted to say a thank you to those who have given their time for this. It is important that we come together as a community – when Tonbridge does comes out, it really does so in force!”
Mayor Owen Baldock said: “It’s been a great event and a real privilege to light the beacon as part of my year as mayor. We are very lucky to have someone such as the Queen who has served the country as she has done.
“It means a lot to me personally to have marked this occasion, and I think the majority of people are royalists at heart and this is something that has really brought the country together which is quite inspiring.”
Owner of Gorgeous George Gifts, Teresa Seamer, was among those entering into the spirit of the day with a line of Union Jack products at her store.
She added: “I know both Suzannah and Pam who have organised it and I think it’s wonderful what they’ve done. But I do think more should have been done to mark the occasion, as I don’t think we celebrate enough.”