PARTY on, Sunderland – veterans Cecily McDevette, 78, and Sylvia Orrell, 76, pulled out all the stops to make sure Wearside’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations were a winner.
Veterans Cecily McDevette, 78, and Sylvia Orrell, 76, pulled out all the stops to make sure Wearside’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations were a winner.
The friends, of Gillwood Court, Penshaw, were among thousands who took to the city’s streets to enjoy the historic event.
The Queen herself yesterday took part in a spectacular River Thames pageant which attracted tens of thousands of rain-soaked people who watched a flotilla of 1,000 boats.
Overcast weather in Sunderland was not going to dampen the spirits of more than 200 people who turned out in Aylesford Mews, Grangetown, to party yesterday.
Organiser Andrea Bowman, 33, who works for a software development company and lives with husband Andy and son Thomas, seven, said: “It’s been fantastic.
“We had a street party last year for the Royal Wedding last year, so this year we decided to do it again. It’s a great chance to get everyone together and we’re thinking about making it a yearly thing – you don’t need an excuse.
“I think we’ve topped last year, we probably had 260 people this year. We’ve just got the barbecue lit and it’s started raining, but it’s only a few drops so hopefully it will go away.”
A short distance away in St Vincent Street, Hendon, residents are also thinking about making their street party event the first of many community get-togethers.
Keith Murray, 46, a services manager for an air-conditioning company, said: “We’ve lived in this street for 13 years and we’ve never done anything like this all the time we’ve been here.
“Our neighbours Jade and Anthony came over and asked if we thought it was worth doing something.”
Keith, who lives with wife Emma and has two children, Stephanie, 22, and Connor, 16, added: “We’re now talking about setting up a street committee and doing something like this every year.”
Many church congregations also joined in the celebrations, including Seaham Methodist Church in Tempest Road.
The Reverend Gill McBride said all three churches she was responsible for – Seaham, Hetton and Fence Houses – had kept with the Queen’s wishes for people to eat together to celebrate the Jubilee.
“We had a really great time,” she said. “At Seaham we had about 50 people from young children to one lady who was also celebrating her 82nd birthday.
“We had a fete tea with ham sandwiches and cakes and things, and a quiz on how much things cost in the 1950s.”
A similar event in Hetton saw 80 people taking part, and in Fence Houses about 40 children took part in jubilee-themed craft sessions.
The Reverend McBride said: “We just decided it would be a great way for all the churches on the circuit to celebrate the Jubilee and also a good way to bring everyone together.
“Her Majesty had said she’d like everyone to eat together to celebrate, so we kept her wish - I’ve done an awful lot of eating today.”
On Saturday, in the town’s Church Street. rides, games and face painting drew in youngsters and their families.
And bands including Zip Jam rocked a stage which was set up next to Byron Place Shopping Centre.
Karan Batey, of Karan’s Florists, in Church Street, helped to organise activities.
“I can’t think of any other retail street that will have put something like this on for the Jubilee,” said the 52-year-old.
“This has been great in getting the community in Seaham together.”
In Houghton, the Friends of Rectory Park group put on a celebration in the landmark park with 20 classic cars, rides and stalls among the attractions.
Sunderland Youth Orchestrea performed throughout the day, with Zazz Dance Troupe strutting their stuff for watching visitors.
Buddy the Balloon Man was also on hand to entertain youngsters.
Edith Corney, of the Friends of Rectory Park, said she was pleased to see plenty of Houghton residents turning out to enjoy the festivities despite the rainy conditions.
“We’ve been in the planning process for about three months for this,” said the 59-year-old, of Dairy Lane.
“We think it is a really important thing for the town to celebrate.”