We should celebrate more often

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UP and down the town it seemed that the people of Hartlepool came together to take advantage of the patchy weather and the long bank holiday to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

The Hartlepool Mail has been awash with red, white and blue as people held street parties.

The Queen watching the jubilee flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with Prince Charles (left) and Prince William

The Queen watching the jubilee flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with Prince Charles (left) and Prince William

From a personal point of view, I was particularly pleased to see one of the loveliest women in the town, Betty Brotherston, who is 91 tomorrow, enjoying herself by dancing and recalling the memories of the Rink.

I think Betty could give Her Majesty a run for her money as to who has the most energy.

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The subject of the Diamond Jubilee, and the wider issue of the role of the Monarchy in 21st century Britain, will inevitably arouse a wide range of strongly-held passions.

Many people will believe that the Monarchy is the embodiment of everything that is strong about Great Britain, a heritage and tradition spanning a thousand years that gives our country a unique place in history and a reputation in the modern age which is the envy of other countries and which provides an economic boost.

Others will believe that a Royal Family has no place in a democratic age, especially when millions of people are suffering with economic hardship at the present time, by having such an aristocracy, society is embedding privilege and elitism.

Still more will be largely indifferent to the whole issue.

However, regardless of one’s views, I think everybody would agree that the present Queen has provided unprecedented service on behalf of her country over six decades. She has been unflinching in her devotion to duty.

Her experience of state matters is now unprecedented, so that when David Cameron, the twelfth prime minister of her reign, mentions something to her in the present day, she can apply her experience of dealing with her first prime minister, Winston Churchill, to current problems. Nobody on earth can match that level of experience.

I have found an interesting quote, which states that, although “a great many Britons have a very low opinion of Parliament and political parties, what is reasonably certain is that the majority still defer to the Monarchy, if to few other institutions, and that it has been strengthened by the Queen.

“Her very Englishness, her restraint, composure and fortitude are appreciating assets in a time of extraordinary political uncertainty, economic misery and cultural flux.”.

Such comments could have been written in the last few days and every word could still apply. However, that was published in The Times newspaper over forty years ago, in February 1972. It is strange that in many respects some things don’t change.

On her 21st birthday in 1947, the then Princess Elizabeth broadcast on the radio and pledged: “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.”

I think everybody would agree that, as Queen, she has certainly fulfilled that pledge.

However, I do think that the events of the Diamond Jubilee are not merely about the Queen or the Royal Family.

There are far too few events which allow us to celebrate the pride we have in our communities or in our country.

The street parties that took place over the weekend were not solely about celebrating sixty years on the throne.

They were an opportunity for young and old, family, friend and neighbour, to come together to praise our shared values.

The events were, more than anything, a celebration of our great country and our great town. I think we should it do it more often.