Large crowd sees David Hemery light Marlborough’s Jubilee Beacon at Barbury Racecourse
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About six hundred people were at Barbury Racecourse on Monday evening (June 4) to see the former Olympic hurdle star David Hemery light Marlborough’s Jubilee Beacon. David Hemery brought with him the Olympic torch he had carried through Royal Wootton Bassett and signed many autographs.
The rain held off and, as the beacon began to burn, the clouds parted to give a wonderful view of the full moon.
The event was organised by the Marlborough Brandt Group with the help of the Barbury Estate and of Chris Musgrave and his team who built a huge bonfire which blazed into the night sky – helped by some very large bales of old linseed straw.
After the hog roast, pay bar and fish and chips and a charity auction of Coronation and Jubilee memorabilia, many people took the steep, torch-lit route up to the beacon – some very young and less young were taken up by tractor and trailer.
Several families took advantage of the wonderful site with its views across the downs, to camp overnight – while the beacon blazed away above them.
The only disappointment was that the young rowers from Marlborough, New Zealand who had rowed in the previous day’s Thames Pageant, never made it down to Marlborough, Wiltshire. They were held up in London to attend an unscheduled presentation and to fix some problems in getting their boat shipped back to New Zealand.
Mayor Edwina Fogg was very disappointed as not only were they to have been honoured guests at the beacon celebration, but were also to be presented at the Town Hall on Tuesday (June 5.)
One young person at the Beacon was especially saddened that the lads from Marlborough, New Zealand didn’t make it - her cousin was one of the rowers and she was looking forward to meeting him for the first time.
“It was a most wonderful occasion and the culmination of months of planning and organisation by a large number of people,” Brandt Group founder Nick Maurice told Marlborough News Online.
“At least 30 people were involved in one way or another and almost exclusively in a voluntary capacity.
“The beacon was built over three days by the staff of the Barbury Estate who were quite magnificent in everything they did to make sure the lighting of the beacon went smoothly.
“It was such a privilege to have an Olympic Gold Medallist in David Hemery to light the beacon in the London Olympic year in front of 600 residents of Marlborough -- and to have Edwina Fogg our Mayor to encourage us all to raise our glasses to Her Majesty The Queen.”
And he added: “Then two special moments occurred when the blaze was at its height, huge sparks were rising into the heavens and the clouds cleared and the full moon appeared.
“My mobile rang and it was friends in Marlborough's link community of Gunjur in The Gambia announcing that they had just lit their beacon and were wishing Her Majesty long life and happiness!”
Below are more photos of the Marlborough Beacon event - including a shot showing the full moon and a 'morning after' shot of the pile of still burning ashes: