Jubilee: 'It's great to get to know each other'
IT was previously named Britain's best community – and The Dings was determined to remind people why it received its crown with its jubilee celebrations.
For the people of the small district of Bristol the Queen's diamond jubilee was simply another excuse for a big community party.
They packed into a giant tent at the end of Birkin Street to escape the relentless rain. Some were decked out in the red, white and blue of the union flag, others opted for a simple hat or flag painted on their face – but all of them were making the most of the chance to join together and enjoy the celebrations.
Music filled the streets, along with the voice of Richard Seymour, who kept people informed of the activities going on throughout the afternoon.
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As well as the more traditional activities of a treasure hunt, quiz, face-painting and balloon-modelling people competed in a series of eating contests – ranging from consuming the hottest chilli to marshmallows and crackers.
Outside the main tent young people from the Dings Youth Project ran a barbecue for those who wanted to enjoy their food – serving up dozens of sausages and burgers to party-goers.
Sally Caseley, 54, has lived in The Dings for 24 years and helped organise the street party.
"We won the Axa best community in Britain before and there is a strong community down here – any occasion we are out here. We try to do something every year.
"If there had been better weather I'm sure more people would have been out here."
Ali Hender said: "We don't need a jubilee to have a party. the fact that so many people come out when it is tipping down with rain and are still smiling and laughing shows that we will give everything a go."
In Emersons Green, residents of Guest Avenue set up the gazebos in the street after enjoying a party for the royal wedding last year.
There was a bouncy castle and the children took part in a treasure hunt to start celebrations and equipment had been set up for a mini Olympics, although the trampoline and nets that had been brought out into the street were abandoned while everyone took shelter in the gazebos.
Mark Glassbrook, 39, helped organise the party with wife Verity and neighbours. "Last year was the first time we did a street party and we said then that we would do it again this year. This has been a nice chance to speak to our neighbours."
The centrepiece of the spread was a jubilee cake made by Lin Graham, of Staple Hill whose daughter lives in the road.
"I think it's wonderful for all the community to get together, the children absolutely love it," she said.
Charlie Jones, nine, said: "We had a treasure hunt in the rain, but it was fun."
In Trescothick Drive, Oldland Common, there was last-minute clearing out of garages to provide shelter from the rain.
Jenny Cooke, who organised the street party in the small close, sported a festive dress covered in union flags, accompanied by a hat featuring the design of the British flag, while youngsters had taken the chance to wear their favourite costumes. There was superhero Batman, fairytale character Snow White and a couple of pirates running around.
Ms Cooke, 37, an art director, said: "I've got fond memories of street parties when I was growing up and this is a lovely environment for it.
"It has been the first time I have spoken to a lot of people in the street and this was a good opportunity for everyone to get to know each other."
Andy Darby, 35, an electrician, was at the party with his sons Jacob and Daniel and partner Ellie Edwards.
"We were hoping this would be the big crescendo, the weather got the best of us but we have made the most of it," he said.
In Tintern Close, Barrs Court, residents spent about two hours erecting gazebos to provide shelter from the rain.
Picnic tables were set up under the shelter and the children crammed themselves in to enjoy the spread of party food, barbecue offerings and red, white and blue-themed cakes.
Tracy Alexander said that planning for the party had started in March and had included meetings in the pub to decide who was going to be responsible for bringing what food.
Karen Mercer, 30, said: "I've never been to anything like this before but we decided to do it as something for the kids."
In Brook Road, Mangotsfield, more than 200 residents took to the street to dance, play games and enjoy a barbecue on Monday.
Barry Perrott, 52, who works at Cleve Rugby Football Club, set up a sound system in his front room, and the street was serenaded with Auld Lang Syne before the disco started later in the afternoon.
He said: "At Christmas we had a carol service in the street, and that went so well we decided to arrange the street party for the Jubilee.
Young residents of Randall Close, Kingswood, took part in a royal-themed fancy dress contest, with prizes given for best King, Queen, Prince and Princess.
Residents were given tea and cake throughout the afternoon and treated themselves to a fish and chips supper from nearby chippy Chungs in the evening.
Organiser Mandy Newport, 41, a district nurse, said: "It is bringing all the neighbours together. It means a lot to people to be celebrating the Queen's Jubilee. Everyone is quite patriotic."
A Union Flag made out of delicious cupcakes and yummy scones decked with fresh cream and jam adorned tables in Upper Cranbrook Road, Westbury Park. Children huddled under gazebos while they had their faces painted and their finger nails varnished in red, white and blue.
Generous party-goers donated all money raised from the games and food to Fingerprints, a charity that raises money for street children in Uganda and is run by two of the street's residents.
A gospel choir, a folk band and some children's bands entertained and later on yesterday evening residents hoped to have fireworks.
"Our party is absolutely fantastic," said father-of-three Nicholas Brand, 42, one of the organisers.
"Last year when we celebrated the Royal wedding around 150 people turned up – we think there are a few less this year because of the rain but it's still a brilliant turnout."
Charlie Hardwick told the Post: "The street is now covered with 54 square metres of gazebo and we are hoping to get a barbecue going."