Several weeks into lockdown, the CelebrateRichmond950 team have met on Zoom to talk about how plans for the celebration of Richmond and its castle next year can continue.
Following news from the National Lottery Heritage Fund that they have suspended their normal grant programme in favour of supporting the heritage sector, which is entirely understandable, Carol Watson, Phil Upton and Marcia McLuckie agreed a discussion was needed to consider the way forward in the absence of the possibility of Lottery funding.
Whilst the loss of possible grant support from the Lottery is a tremendous disappointment that means some of the larger events will now not be able to go ahead, the trio are firm in their desire to make sure that Richmond will still celebrate.
The organisers are still enthusiastic about the 950th anniversary and the initiator of the idea for the celebrations, Carol Watson, remains full of enthusiasm, “Richmond is full of character and tradition and we are all proud of its crown as the first of many Richmonds around the world. From the outset, it has been an honour and privilege to be involved with helping the town celebrate its birthday, its heritage and its future as well as to work with so many enthusiastic members of the community – and this feels even more the case with current events”.
Carol continued, “While we are very aware of the challenges people are, or will be, facing, these events are as much a part of our town’s on-going history as all events in our history and, so, with this in mind, we hope that next year will be a real celebration of all that is wonderful in Richmond.”
Many of the planned activities are the ideas of local groups, who will bring these ideas to fruition and work is well advanced on projects such as the ‘People’s Wood’ – a plan to plant 950 trees on land made available by Zetland Estates up near the racecourse and to be managed by local charity, Just the Job Environmental Services. Funding has already been applied for through the Woodland Trust and it is hoped that the additional funds required will be available from other sources.
The opening procession on 2nd January from the castle, banquets organised by the Kings Head Hotel, themselves celebrating their 300th anniversary, Civic Society talks, oral history projects, swimming events and Original Richmond in Bloom themed for the year are still scheduled to go ahead as planned.
The Georgian Theatre Royal will be producing a Community Play, enlisting local residents to work alongside a professional creative team to put together a fabulous production. To celebrate the history of Richmond, the theme will be on the lines of ‘The Complete History of Richmond (Abridged)’ and it will be performed in sketch-form, like Horrible Histories. Work on the production will begin in January and the show will be performed on the Georgian stage during the first week of September.’
Other plans include a ‘Good Old Days’ music hall event, a Victorian cricket match, a visit and activities from residents of St. Aubin du Cormier – our French town twin, work with our local schools, including visits and a Writing project, which will also involve local residents, Yorkshire Day and Christmas markets and exhibitions.
Individuals and groups are invited to contact the organisers of celebrateRichmond950 with any other ideas for events that they can run during the course of the year.
In 1071 planning for an event such as this would have been all-but impossible in a situation of isolation, such as we are experiencing today, but 21st century technology makes it possible. It is extraordinary that discussions can continue without having to meet face to face and reinforces the enormous changes that have been made in how the way we communicate has evolved over the last 950 years.
Marcia mused, “The Normans, who built Richmond Castle, would be amazed to know that we are planning to celebrate their achievement by moving our plans forward through visual discussions held between three different homes! It would be an idea for the celebrations if a local group would consider how they can explore and demonstrate the development of communications over the last 950 years”.
Marcia continued, “Henry VIII would also have been impressed that we didn’t need the beacon to pass on important messages at speed. News of the Spanish Armada would today reach our ears pretty well before the invaders left Spain!”,
Champion of the year as Patron of CelebrateRichmond950 is Baroness Angela Harris of Richmond, who has kindly lent her support to the continuation of plans to celebrate next year, “During this difficult time, when we are all locked into our homes because of the virus, what more uplifting and hopeful prospect than looking to the future and the celebration of 950 years of our own RICHMOND next year. Planning continues apace, as you can see, and we now want you all to think of ways you can help make this fantastic event take off. Whilst we are all in lockdown we have plenty of time to make our imaginations soar, so I charge you all with helping us in whatever ways you can, to make this very special anniversary be one that will go down in our town’s history as the best – ever”.
During this time of lockdown people might like to get in touch with the organisers about joining the 2nd January procession and what period of costume they can make during this period of isolation that they could wear for the occasion.
For further information and / or to register interest in joining the 2nd January procession please email: firstname.lastname@example.org