Counting down the days to biggest celebration in years

12-372  Councillor Neil Harden and 2012 officer Gill Barber with jubilee 'material at Dacorum Civic Centre.
12-372 Councillor Neil Harden and 2012 officer Gill Barber with jubilee 'material at Dacorum Civic Centre.

THE countdown to the biggest celebrations seen in Hemel Hempstead since the creation of the new town continues with just 40 days to go.

Within weeks a special 16-page brochure will go on sale, produced by Dacorum Borough Council and costing 50p, commemorating the Queen’s Jubilee ahead of the big day on June 4.

On that day at 11am a procession of floats will move off from behind Debenhams at Riverside.

Community groups have taken charge of the floats – which will each represent a decade of the Queen’s rule – with junior wardens taking care of the 1950s, children’s centres the 1960s, Arazzmatazz the 1970s, Radio Dacorum the 1980s, the Town Centre Partnership the 1990s, and the scouts steering us through the 2000s.

The parade will pass slowly through the town centre and make its way to Gadebridge Park, where from midday a fair will be set up, complete with a stage, stalls and activities.

From 5pm professional musicians will take to the stage and a massive outdoor screen will show a live stream of the Buckingham Palace concert between acts.

Meanwhile, scouts will construct a giant beacon 50ft high – one of 2,012 around the country – that will be set ablaze at 10.30pm.

This will be followed by a fireworks display as the grand finale.

In Berkhamsted a giant street party is planned with music, dance and an evening bash at Ashlyns School.

On the day before, June 3, at 10.30am a special church service will be broadcast around Queens Square in Hemel Hempstead, where Her Majesty laid the foundation stone of St Barnabas Church in 1952.

The square will be closed off to traffic and a celebratory outdoor lunch laid on.

Along with these plans, parish councils across the borough have drawn up their own ways to mark the Diamond Jubilee, with Dacorum topping the UK street party chart.

Councillor Neil Harden, cabinet member for residents and regulatory services at Dacorum Borough Council, said: “Dacorum has got the most in Herts and Herts has the most in the country.”

In the background to this dozens of events are taking place as part of the Festival of Culture and Sport to mark the Olympics, including a photographic competition, sports taster sessions and the Grand Water Festival.

The festival kicks off on May 27 around the waterways of Apsley and includes a carnival of arts, crafts, drama, dance, music and even canoeing. A number of spin-off events on other days are also taking place.

A guided Tring Reservoir Walk is planned for June 27 and the summer carnival parade takes place on June 30.

An Olympics-themed musical concert featuring a number of Hemel Hempstead schools takes place on July 4, while the Dacorum School Sports Network will hold a sports day on July 15.

In a week-long run-up to the start of the Olympics on July 27 Across Hemel, a network of churches, has organised a series of community events in Gadebridge Park as well as a giant screen to show the opening ceremony.

But before the big day the Olympic torch will, of course, be coming through Hemel Hempstead on Sunday, July 8.

The stretch of Marlowes outside the civic centre will be closed to traffic and a 60m running track laid out where youngsters will compete in a mini sports day.

A marquee will be set up on the old Pavilion site for arts and crafts and other activities while in Dacorum Way there will be children’s rides and food stalls.

A sum of £160,000 has been set aside by the council for the 2012 festivities and an officer, Gill Barber, has been seconded to the role of Dacorum 2012 officer.

“Dacorum is going to be the place to be,” she said. “It’ll be fabulous, I can’t wait. It’s an historic year. All we want is a bit of sun.”

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