After a few days of setting up and months of planning, our Diamond Jubilee Festival started promptly at 4pm on Friday 29 June. As soon as the gates were opened, people started to stream onto the field where the tents and stalls were set up.
The weather was spectacular, with temperatures in the high 20s, and a long queue immediately formed at the ice cream van. There was plenty to eat and drink with various foods on offer including hog roast, burgers and South African sausage. The Balsall Common Lions provided a much-visited bar and the PTA ran a beautifully set Afternoon Tea marquee with lots of cake.
The highlights of the event though were the performances which went on non-stop from 4.15 to 9.15. With five hours of programming, there was a great variety of choirs, soloists, duets and bands, all providing excellent entertainment. Performers included students from Year 7 all the way to Year 13, a staff band and staff choir and special guest performances from former students Lorna Want and Karl Loxley. “It was great to hear Lorna sing,” said Richard Drake, Chair of Berkswell Parish Council. “Last time we heard her sing was on a West End stage!”
Our school prefects took on great ambassadorial roles by providing school tours and helping out with stalls such as the popular Memories stall and the tuck shop.
The special visitors’ marquee was the scene of some reunions: three former students who started on the first day in 1957 were there. They were full of stories of the school, how it used to be and what a fantastic influence has been on their lives. “These young people have such great opportunities here. It’s great to see how confidently they perform on the stage,” said 1957 pupil Janet Jerome.
Janet was joined by Bill (Clyde) Howes and Derek, also from the 1957 cohort. Bill had a newspaper clipping with a photo of his ’57 class in a lesson. Bill’s wife said: “We even managed to locate Clyde’s old classroom, though it’s somewhat changed!” He also had a book with him which was presented to him in 1960 as school prize when he was in the Third Year (now Year 9).
Our Diamond Jubilee Year is almost over and the festival was a great way to bring everyone together to celebrate and many members of the local community joined us. Berkswell councilor Andrew Burrow said: “We were very, very impressed with the musical entertainment and the politeness, poise and interpersonal skills of the pupils that we met. We are thankful that, in a small way, Berkswell Parish Council has helped our community school. The school is an asset to the community and worth supporting.”