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The Diamond Jubilee approaches fast, and we are proud to declare that our plans are well in place. Having monitored the trends that surrounded the Silver Jubilee of 1977 and the Golden Jubilee of 2002, we feel well trained to prepare for jubilees. It seems to me that this Jubilee will not suffer from the apathetic negativity that was so prevalent in the months running up to the earlier two. It is such a wonderful opportunity to celebrate The Queen. I remember so well Lord Drogheda, Chairman of the London Celebrations Committee for The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 saying: “The Queen needs to be celebrated from time to time”.
Hopefully 2012 will be a very exciting year, richly enjoyed by many. Meanwhile, I am pleased to be able to report another positive year for the Jubilee Walkway Trust. We have three particular directives and we have made significant progress with all three. The first two involve the Walkway itself. The Walkway is in good condition. We make sure that where our attention is needed, it is applied. We are conscious that some of the panels are in poor condition and need updating. This year we replaced two panels, adding the very useful Braille features which make them more inclusive. In November we had what must surely be our most dramatic unveiling to date. We had replaced the panel in Trafalgar Square which stands in front of Nelson’s Column and interprets the view towards Whitehall. We had invited Robert Davis to unveil it.
Robert is a longstanding friend of the Walkway and when he was Lord Mayor of Westminster, he was present on the magnificent day in 1996 when former President Nelson Mandela unveiled the panel outside South Africa House. He agreed to perform the ceremony. The day dawned rather unpromisingly with heavy snowflakes falling on London. Furthermore we realised that the time we had chosen was likely to coincide with a student march on Westminster. We were not deterred. Arriving at the scene, I found Jim Walker and Jenny Humphreys, well muffled against the elements, Jenny clutching a bag which contained some mulled wine to fortify any Trustees who might attend. Most of Trafalgar Square was awash with students and there was a fine trade going on as street vendors sold them artefacts to support their protests.
To be fair, they were in a calm state, but there were a lot of them, and as we know a crowd like that can soon become menacing. The idea of our handsome banner spread over the new panel had all the possibilities of acting as a red rag to a bull. We pressed on. Fortunately circumstances played into our hand when the police closed off Whitehall. Some enterprising youth leader detected that by going through Admiralty Arch, the students could reach Westminster by an equally good route. Like a Pied Piper he led the way, and the still orderly horde departed to a man. At this point Robert arrived from his morning meeting, we covered the panel with the banner, he whisked it off, we shook hands and our unveiling was achieved. We then took Robert to lunch at the rooftop restaurant in the National Portrait Gallery. Our second thrust for the Walkway concerns greening the route, and Joyce Bellamy has written a separate report about this – see page 8. We had a special day at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday 12 September. The Vice-Dean welcomed a good number of Trustees at the Cathedral, and we occupied two rows at the front for a long and inspired service which included 4 the admission of a number of choristers.
At the end of this Patronal Service we processed down the aisle and out to the courtyard beside the Cathedral and the Vice-Dean and Canons, all robed, stood around the bench we were giving them. This was duly unveiled in the presence of the entire congregation. It was nice to be able to cement our links with the Cathedral in this way. The Walkway runs right along the south bank of the Thames from Lambeth to Tower Bridge and the only point where there is a slight detour is at Southwark. But this is the perfect place as it leads walkers past Southwark Cathedral. We hope that many will use the bench on their walks and of course take the opportunity to visit the Cathedral itself. It was nice to be gathering so many Trustees into church for a happy celebration rather than to bid farewell to one of our number. The third initiative of the Trust is the Jubilee Greenway. This made great strides forward in the course of the year. One hundred and fifty eight markers were installed along the 60km route.
Besides these, we had commissioned 60 lit markers, the original idea being to place them at various key positions along the route. But we thought they might make more of an impact if gathered together. Jim Walker created an effective design turning them into ‘2012’ and, on behalf of the Trust, I offered them to the Olympic Delivery Authority. We are looking forward to turning them on in the course of 2011 to herald the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympic Games. During the year we paid tribute to our late Trustee, Peter Drew, by placing a bench at St Katharine’s Dock opposite the Dockmaster’s House where Peter lived for so many years. He was responsible for so much that happened in the Dock and memorably for mustering schoolchildren to come and greet The Queen on her Silver Jubilee river progress in June 1977. Wendy Drew, Peter’s widow, then gave a reception on 27 April. Many Trustees attended including Geoffrey Rowley. It was therefore a great shock that the following day, 28 April, Geoffrey was returning from an evening engagement in the City of London and was knocked down in the road near his home at Woodford Green and killed. An appreciation appears on page 9.
Geoffrey had been a most loyal and supportive Trustee since 1992, seldom missing any of our meetings. Our only consolation was that he had looked so well and happy the day before, a fine and sunny day, spent in the company of his Walkway colleagues. In the course of the year, Illtyd Harrington stepped down as a Trustee and we immediately appointed him a Trustee Emeritus in recognition of his considerable support for the Trust since its inception. As indicated, plans have progressed in various directions for the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee. Funding was obtained for the completion of the Jubilee Greenway, and we are pleased that several years of work is now coming to fruition. In this respect I would like to thank Geordie Greig, Editor of the London Evening Standard, for publishing my article on the progress of the Jubilee Greenway, which proved a considerable 5 help in our endeavours. This has a good historical precedent since the late Charles Wintour did much to promote the enjoyment of the Silver Jubilee when he was Editor in 1977. We celebrate Jubilees, but we also celebrate other royal occasions and anniversaries. We were delighted to hear the announcement of the engagement of HRH Prince William of Wales to Miss Catherine Middleton on 16 November, and we will mark the occasion of their wedding on a special Royal Wedding Walkway panel outside Westminster Abbey where they will marry on 29 April 2011.