POST-COVID HOPE: Events in the pipeline for Stone community
Stone community leaders are looking ahead to events for the town when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted – including a belated celebration of the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
A “post Covid-19” event could also be on the cards as part of Stone Town Council’s plans for 2021.
But Councillor Jim Davies, speaking at a recent Tourism and Town Promotion Committee meeting, said: “I think we need to be very careful that once we are through this Covid-19 business it should not be like a celebration. We have had a lot of people in the town who have been very sick and will have lost loved ones.
“We should be very careful how we pitch this, so it is not like a victory. Remember a lot of people have suffered and a lot of businesses have suffered as well.”
In 2020 a number of events had to be cancelled in Stone as restrictions on mass gatherings came into force to control the spread of Covid-19.
These included a weekend of festivities planned for May to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.
Some events were able to move online however, including the town’s annual Christmas lights switch-on, which was viewed by thousands of people all over the world.
Stone Food and Drink Festival also went virtual for 2020, with cooking demonstrations by local chefs filmed at the new Crown Wharf development. There was also a socially-distanced farmers’ market held on Westbridge Park.
Councillor Davies said: “It was a huge disappointment that we weren’t able to go ahead with the fantastic events we had already lined up to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
“We said what we would probably have to do, once Covid-19 was over, is go back and re-visit what we had planned and perhaps select some of the things we were going to do and bring them in as a VE 75 + 1. I know a lot of organisations around the country are having to do that sort of thing.”
He suggested that tributes could be paid to Stone residents who died in action during the Second World War at the homes where they once lived.
“One thing we could start to do now is consider producing ceramic plaques, inspired by the blue plaques installed by English Heritage, that would bear some of the details of the individuals concerned. I suggest they could be produced in conjunction with Oak Tree Farm as an ongoing community project”, he said.
“I believe there will be considerable interest in the town and the unveiling of these plaques should be a formal civic event. The schools could get involved as part of their history lessons.”
Beyond 2021 the council has even started to consider how the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee can be marked. The 2022 milestone would be the first time a British monarch has celebrated 70 years on the throne and in November it was announced there would be an extra Bank Holiday as part of a four-day weekend in early June.
Councillor Jill Hood, chairman of the Tourism and Town Promotion Committee, said: “It is going to be a splendid event and hopefully we will be totally Covid clear by then.”
Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter
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