IN years to come, those who were at Ridgeway, Newport, tonight will be able to say ‘I was there’.
Organiser John Hallam said that our generation probably won’t see anything like it again- a monarch celebrating 60 years on the throne.
And to celebrate the special occasion, the people of Gwent came out in force, with around 3,000 watching a special beacon lit.
People brought picnics, deck chairs, union flags and champagne and lined the hillside.
Stewards said they never imagined the volume of revellers, with Carol Wood from Newport excitedly proclaiming: “It’s great to see so many people have come, so many children and families and it has turned into a festival.”
What it lacked in the big names that were in London, it made up for with the spirit of local people. The entertainment kicked off at 7.30pm, with acts including Toy Pop- a group of girls playing instruments made from children’s toys.
Then it was the closest Newport got to a famous act with Sarah and H playing- however, this H was introduced as being far more talented than his namesake from Steps.
By now, the Cava was flowing and people were toasting the Queen. Jacqui Miller from Preston Avenue, Newport, summed up the atmosphere by handing out homemade cakes and called the occasion “wonderful”.
Over 4,000 beacons were being lit around the world and 40 of these were in Gwent- with the one at Twmbarlwm visible in the distance.
As the sky turned red into night, people gathered around the towering pile of wood that had been created at Ridgeway, with children chanting ‘light it, light it’.
The Rogerstone scout band then led out a procession of AMs, MPs and councillors carrying burning torches.
Lord lieutenant of Gwent Simon Boyle said the initial aim was to get 2,012 beacons nationwide, saying: “I am very proud that we will have 40 alight in Gwent alone.”
Other beacon sites included Caldicot Castle, The Folly, Pontypool, The Domen, Ebbw Vale and Bedwellty Church.
He praised main organisers John Hallam and the Maindee Festival, before God Save the Queen was sung by Becky Barnbrook from St Julians.
The Welsh national anthem was then sung and the beacon lit to Welsh love songs by Bethan Nia on harp.
Perhaps the greatest testament to the success of the night was the fact that before it took place, this hill was used mainly by walkers and sledgers in the snow.
By the end of it, organisers from Newport’s four rotary clubs were talking about it as a possible location for concerts and summer festivals.