June has been a busy month of celebration. The Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen has been a constant and joyous theme, but interspersed with this have been celebrations with several Essex based charities. Over the past week the celebrations continued as our armed forces moved onto the stage during Armed Forces Week.

Our Lord Lieutenant commenced the Jubilee celebrations with a service at Chelmsford Cathedral, attended by dignitaries from around the county. Red, white and blue flowers added to the occasion which was enjoyed by all those present and broadcast on the Cathedral’s Facebook channel. You can still watch it on You Tube here.

The Cathedral celebration was closely followed by a magnificent ceremony at Castle Park in Colchester where the guns of 7th Regiment Royal Horse Artillery fired a 42 Gun Salute to mark the Jubilee. Such a salute is a rare occasion and we are lucky that the event was hosted in our county by a resident Regiment, part of 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team.

The same evening I joined the Mayor of Chelmsford and many hundreds of Chelmsford residents for the lighting of the Jubilee Beacon at Oaklands Park. The Chelmsford Singers sang – and Jonathan Swan played the specially commissioned piece for the Bagpipes. It was altogether a very special evening.

Jubilee services were held at churches around the county as, town by town, people came together as they have for centuries, to celebrate a very happy Royal occasion. I attended several including one at one of our finest churches, St Mary’s in Saffron Walden – one of the great ‘wool churches’ largely built in the 15th and 16th centuries funded by the wealth of the Essex wool trade. You can read a history of the church here.

The Vice Lord Lieutenant, the Mayor and Town Clerk of Saffron Walden, and me, with partners together with the Macebearer at St Mary’s Church

During the month I was also pleased to attend several happy celebrations with Essex organisations, though sadly I missed joining Keep It 100 and ECVYS for their evening events as I was under the weather for a few days. It is hard to pick highlights, but Chelmsford CVS organised a very successful Volunteer Festival in the High Street; Lads need Dads held a terrific awards event at Princes Theatre in Clacton-on-Sea; and North Avenue Youth Centre in Chelmsford held their AGM and lovely awards ceremony followed by a barbeque that we all enjoyed. The charity and voluntary sectors contribute so much to community life and it right that we celebrate with them as they transform lives.

Enjoying the barbeque after the North Avenue Youth Centre AGM

Celebrations at the end of the month didn’t let up as Essex Police held a long service awards evening, and the county celebrated Armed Forces Week, the more special this year because of the Jubilee. Towns raised flags to mark a local Armed Forces day, and our Essex based military units organised events, with the 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team putting on a spectacular show on Abbey Fields in Colchester. Essex is also proud to host the Royal Engineers at Carver Barracks in Wimbish. I was honoured to be invited to take the salute at the Jubilee Parade of 35 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search) and to present their Jubilee Medals. After the constraints imposed by COVID19, celebrating in such a way felt very special indeed.

As this month of celebration draws to a close, there is much to reflect on: the 70 years of faithful service of her Majesty the Queen: the loyal and brave commitment of our police and armed forces: and around Essex, day by day, the work of many voluntary and community organisations. Their employees and volunteers work tirelessly, seeking to make communities safer and more caring places. I have been deeply impressed by those I have already met, and now look forward to meeting many more during the summer and autumn.

There truly is so much to celebrate.

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