Jubilation turns sour as Barnet beacon is ‘only one in country’ not to light

06:00 07 June 2012

Compere Red Stripe talks to Isabella Ward as she prepares to light the Jubilee beacon in Golders Hill Park on June 4. Picture: Polly Hancock

Compere Red Stripe talks to Isabella Ward as she prepares to light the Jubilee beacon in Golders Hill Park on June 4. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

Jubilee celebrations turned sour for a crowd of hundreds when a beacon due to be lit to mark the Queen’s 60 year reign became the only known one in the country not to ignite.

Cheers from the excited crowd who had gathered to see the ceremonial illumination at Golders Hill Park Jubilee Festival on Monday night turned to boos as the beacon failed to catch alight despite three attempts.

Heartbroken Isabella Ward, 12, who had been hand picked to light the beacon after writing to the Queen, broke down in tears as what had promised to be a once-in-a-lifetime moment flopped.

Her mother, Shelley Ward, said: “It was very much a disappointment. Isabella was really upset. There had been a huge build up and she wanted it to be really special, but it wasn’t.

“It was her 12th birthday on the same day so it was really gutting.”

In what was billed as Barnet’s flagship Jubilee party, a crowd of 6,000 patriotic party-goers decked out in red, white and blue descended on the park in Golders Green throughout the day and hundreds stayed to watch the torch being lit.

It was one of 4,000 beacons due to be set aflame across the Commonwealth, culminating with The Queen igniting the final torch at the end of a star-studded concert outside Buckingham Palace.

Isabella and Barnet Mayor Brian Schama both spoke of their excitement as they prepared to light the beacon at 10.15pm – just 15 minutes before the Queen ignited hers.

But excitement turned to disappointment when the beacon failed due to technical problems.

Organisers even led the public in a rousing rendition of Land Of Hope And Glory while technicians tried to fix the beacon, to no avail.

After a third unsuccessful attempt, organisers called time on the celebrations, prompting jeers and boos from the crowd.

Isabella’s grandmother Judy Green, who with her husband Michael had cut short her holiday in Majorca to watch her granddaughter light the torch, said simply: “It was a dream shattered.”

Bruno Peek, pageant master of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons, said: “It is a real shame that one of the chain wasn’t alight. I can understand the disappointment.”

A spokesman for the City of London, which ran the event with Barnet Council, said the beacon had been successfully lit in tests only hours before the ceremony. It is believed the ignition components, provided by Sugg Lighting, failed, but the investigation is ongoing.

By way of apology, City of London has offered Isabella sponsorship of any animal at Golders Hill Zoo and a behind the scenes tour, an annual season ticket for the Lido, and sport coaching sessions.

Simon Lee, superintendent of Hampstead Heath said: “We are deeply apologetic to Isabella and the public - this clearly impacted on what was, overall, a fantastic celebration.”

A Barnet Council spokesman said the authority was “disappointed” and considering how to make it up to Isabella.


Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 17:56
Squatters at 156 West End Lane in West Hampstead are evicted

Squatters have left empty former council offices in West Hampstead peacefully on Saturday morning after bailiffs arrived.

Yesterday, 15:11
Evidence for the trial

A woman from Crouch Hill has been disqualified from owning animals for life after keeping dogs in cages stacked on top of each other nearly every day.

Yesterday, 14:03
Claudia Tabitha, 23, Big Issue vendor. Photo: Polly Hancock

A pregnant Big Issue vendor has been overwhelmed by generous offers of support from local parents.

Yesterday, 12:14
Neelu Berry

An activist making claims of satanic abuse at a Hampstead church could face three new charges of witness intimidation.

Sunday, November 29, 2015
Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society members. From left Amanda Carrara, Chris Currer, Mark Afford, Miriam Levin and Dave Winskill.

The fight for community ownership of Hornsey Town Hall continues, even though the council officially invited bids from developers last week.

Sunday, November 29, 2015
Expedition 45 Commander SCOTT KELLY took this selfie photograph during a 7-hour and 16-minute spacewalk. This was the first spacewalk for both Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren; the two will venture outside the International Space Station for the second time on next Friday. Kelly becomes the U.S. astronaut who has lived in space the longest during a single U.S. spaceflight, and on Monday, Nov. 2, the crew celebrates the 15th year of a continuous human presence in space aboard the station. (Credit Image: © NASA/ZUMA Wire)

Young gardeners are preparing for a close encounter of the herbaceous kind when they attempt to grow seeds from outer space.

Sunday, November 29, 2015
Keir Starmer arrives with his wife Victoria at the election count. Picture: Polly Hancock

It’s been six months since Sir Keir Starmer won the safe Labour seat of Holborn and St Pancras by a huge majority.

Saturday, November 28, 2015
Volunteers plant a new herbaceous border to mark Waterlow Park's 125th anniversary. Picture: Polly Hancock

Volunteers armed with gardening forks and spades replanted a herbaceous border to mark a Highgate park’s 125th anniversary.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Nike Trainers

Nike’s motto is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ With this in mind it’s no surprise why Nike is the preferred training gear for most A-list athletes. Get an extra boost in your run or height in your jump with £500 to spend on Nike trainers.

MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder