A glowing tribute for the Queen’s birthday

Villagers gather around the beacon in Haxey, which was lit as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. Picture: Phil Waring
Villagers gather around the beacon in Haxey, which was lit as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. Picture: Phil Waring
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IT is a long and unbroken tradition that is quintessentially British - the lighting of swathes of beacons across the country to mark Royal jubilees, weddings, coronations and special birthdays.

And on April 21, when the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday, it will be no different, as traditional bonfires, specially built gas-fuelled structures, and braziers on top of a tall wooden post will glow on at the peaks of mountains, across village greens, town centres and other sites around the country.

The Queen herself will light the first of the chain of more than 1,000 beacons across Britain and the work to mark her milestone anniversary - bringing together communities just as it in 2012 for the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

Back then, sites including Brimham Rocks, Whitby Abbey, Emley Moor and Otley Chevin hosted beacon lighting ceremonies.

While the list of beacon sites is not set to be formally released until April 13, councils, community groups, charities and other organisations across Yorkshire are set to get behind the call, with a range of sites already announced.

In Wakefield, which in 2012 lit beacons at Pontefract Castle, Haw Hill Park in Normanton and Oakenshaw Grange, will light a beacon outside the Town Hall on April 21, while inside the hall the Mayor, Coun June Cliffe, will host a musical evening in celebration of the Queen’s birthday and to raise funds for charity.

Civic leaders will also gather in Barnsley, where a beacon will be lit outside the Town Hall.

In 2012, crowds were out in the village of Haxey in North Lincolnshire for the lighting of the Queen’s diamond jubilee beacon, and the parish council is hoping for a similar turn out when their beacon is lit at 7.30pm on April 21.

Chairman of Haxey Parish Council, Coun David Knowles said: “There is an element of showing loyalty to the Queen, but it is also a chance for the community to get together. We will be using a mobile beacon this year, but have plans to buy and permanent beacon for the parish in future.”

Further north in Leeds, the Lord Mayor will attend a ceremony at Leeds Minister, whilst a second beacon will be lit at Woodhall Hills in Calverley at 8.30pm.

In Halifax, the “momentous occasion” will be marked at the aptly-named Beacon Hill, the site of previous celebrations.

The Mayor of Calderdale, Coun Lisa Lambert said: “Calderdale is delighted to be joining in with the nation-wide beacon tribute.

“We were also recently part of the national Clean for the Queen campaign to get the country looking its best ahead of the Queen’s birthday. It was a great success in Calderdale, with people coming together to collect 800 bags of litter and clear up 17 tonnes of fly-tipping.”

Elsewhere across the country, members of the Army Cadet Force will be taking beacons to the top of the four highest peaks in the United Kingdom - Ben Nevis in Scotland, Mount Snowdon in Wales, Scafell Pike in England, and Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland.

Buckingham Palace has revealed how the Queen will mark her big day, which also includes a walkabout near Windsor Castle.

She will also unveil a plaque at the foot of Windsor’s Castle Hill to mark The Queen’s Walkway.

The 6.3km self-guided walking trail, designed by The Outdoor Trust, connects 63 points of significance in Windsor and celebrates the Queen’s record as the country’s longest reigning monarch.

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We’re all part of ‘Team Leeds’