This article was written by Damian and published in this week's Herald and Petersfield Post:
"A happy new year. 2022 is Platinum Jubilee Year.
In a few weeks - on 6th February - Her Majesty The Queen will have been in her unique role for 70 years.
The first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, this extraordinary period of service and dedication will be honoured and celebrated throughout the year, including an extended bank holiday in June.
I know many local towns, villages and neighbourhoods in East Hampshire will take the opportunity to put up the bunting, share food and raise a toast to Her Majesty.
It is really important that we take time to recognise significant milestones in our history. They are moments in our national life, but become memorable times, too, in our own. Like so many of my generation I well remember the Silver Jubilee street parties of 1977, the special patch-badge sewn onto our Cubs uniforms, and the commemorative coin and mug that I still have today.
National celebrations over the four day weekend in June will start on Thursday 2nd with an extra-special Trooping the Colour. On the same day, Platinum Jubilee Beacons will be lit across the UK, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, and for the first time in Commonwealth capitals.
A Service of Thanksgiving will be held at St Paul’s on Friday 3rd June and a Platinum Party and concert (with public-balloted tickets) at Buckingham Palace on the Saturday.
The Big Jubilee Lunch will encourage communities to come together on the Sunday, while the Platinum Jubilee Pageant will bring together street arts, theatre, music, circus and carnival.
A special commemorative medal will be awarded to serving frontline members of the police, fire, emergency services, prison services and Armed Forces. It is the fourth jubilee medal created for The Queen, following those of 1977, 2002 and 2012.
People are also being invited to plant a ‘tree for the Jubilee’ as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy project. Everyone from individuals to community groups, villages, cities, counties, schools and firms are encouraged to take part.
Her Majesty has witnessed immense change over the seven decades, including in her own role, as empire changed to a Commonwealth of nations.
Commonwealth countries share a strong association with each other. Today that connection lives on through a shared heritage but also through business and trade – with sport providing another important way we come together.
Elite sport has a particular association with Jubilee years, not least the 2012 Olympics in London. From 1977, my other etched-on memory is of Virginia Wade at Wimbledon. In those days the Ladies’ Final was on a Friday and we were allowed to watch it at school, crowded around the television.
This Jubilee Year, England hosts the Women’s Euros in July and the Rugby League World Cup in October. But the highlight will be the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham between 27th July and 7th August. A Baton carrying a message from the Queen left Buckingham Palace in October last year and is travelling to 72 Commonwealth territories across a 294 day relay before being read aloud at the Opening Ceremony.
Elite sport showcases humankind stretching further, reaching higher, testing limits and breaking records. Her Majesty’s service over seven decades as our Queen is unparalleled – a shining example of selflessness, leadership and the very highest of values. That is something much to be celebrated."