Shropshire Star

Residents brave the Shropshire rain to party for the King's coronation

Events were held across Shropshire to give those who wanted to mark the coronation of King Charles the opportunity to do so with others in the community.

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Party family, from left mum Claire Whittock, with husband Andy Whittock and their daughter Abbie, aged six

Big TVs provided the focal point of gatherings of people keen to be present at an event held in the UK for the first time since King Charles III's mother was crowned monarch in 1953.

Seventy years ago people huddled around small TVs in their neighbours houses or on cinema screens. This time, at Shrewsbury Castle, people gathered to do essentially the same thing, but outdoors, in the rain.

A walk around the county town centre revealed very few shops or houses festooned with patriotic symbols, perhaps unlike Ludlow where 41 traders did so.

Those uninterested in the event, or planning to watch it later on TV, went about their daily business with only the occasional display or booming sound of town crier Martin Wood to remind then of the historic events taking place on the streets of the capital.

Inside the castle grounds was a different story, a little island of party people who were determined to have a good time watching the TV with friends come rain or drizzle.

Pictured are "king" Charlie Taylor, aged nine, on his bean bag throne, with dad Matt Taylor, sister Rosie, aged two, with Matt's mum Linda Webster

The rain didn't matter for Eleri Gibson and her friends from back in the day at Oswestry Girls High School.

"We have been very good friends for years and years," said Eleri. "We are here to celebrate the the occasion and it is nice to be here for an historic event. It is a beautiful occasion.

"We like to celebrate together as much as possible," she added as the cork popped on a bottle of bubbly.

Proudly waving the flag of Australia were Ros Wade, and her daughters Holly and Rebecca Wade-Redmond, with their friend Tracy Tomkins.

Nurse Ros had moved to Oz, got married, had children and came back to the UK in 1989. Her husband, Phil, a broad Aussie, sadly died last year.

"He would have loved this," said Holly.

The family are proud supporters of the Monarchy who loved Queen Elizabeth II and went to the Jubilee celebrations.

While King Charles was being crowned in Westminster, the castle's own "king" Charlie Taylor, aged nine, sat on his bean bag throne attended to by dad Matt Taylor, sister Rose, aged two, and Matt's mum Linda Webster.

Matt said he isn't particularly Royalist but was there to share a moment of history with his young family.

That was also a theme for Sarah and Dan Carpenter and their children Ffion, aged 12, and Cerys, aged eight.

"We are here for the history," said Sarah as they sat protected from the persistently falling drizzly rain by umbrellas and a sheet.

A small percentage of homes in Shrewsbury were choosing to outwardly show their patriotism, but one family who pulled out all the stops were the Whittocks of Ellesmere Road. Their garden was filled with Union Flags, pictures of the King, their windows were also filled with the red, white and blue.

Party family, from left, Abbie Whittock, 6, with her mum Claire and dad Andy

And inside their home they had coronation sunglasses, cushions, cups, bunting, plates. Even down to the toilet rolls and kitchen towels. Food also had a coronation feel, with coronation chicken pizza.

Their three cats and a rabbit proved to be the party poopers of the house, refusing the offer of coverings with claw and tooth.

"We decided to make a day of it," said Claire Whittock, 45, as daughter six-year-old Abbie bounced around excitedly and the TV showed the coronation day events unfolding.

"I was born in 1977, the silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth, so it has always been a part of me," said the civil servant.

"We've even made a Victoria Sponge cake and called it a Charles sponge."

Husband and dad Andy Whittock, 46, an Arriva bus driver for 20 years, said that they also do it for the neighbours, to put a smile on people's faces. The couple first met on the buses when Claire travelled to work.

"The people across the road say they don't need a calendar to know what's going on," he said as the family waved at a passing couple.

Claire and Andy's patriotic antics seemed to be infectious locally with some of the neighbours joining in to make a patriotic island.

Street parties were also a feature on Saturday, with others planned around the county on Sunday.

In Shrewsbury Sylvia Jones organised a street party for her neighbours in Underdale Avenue where about half the street turned out to buy raffle tickets, eat cakes and enjoy each others' company. They played games, too.

Sylvia, 75, a retired former guides leader, who was a part of the movement for 30 years, organised the shindig as a way of encouraging community engagement and to raise funds.

They ended up with £86.50 to help send members of the 5th Shrewsbury Guides and 13th Shrewsbury Brownies to a summer camp. It was more than Sylvia expected.

"I know it will help ensure all the children taking part will benefit from the adventures they will experience," she said.

Mum Kathryn Davies, her daughters Rose Woollam and Sarah Carswell, and Sarah's children Jack, 19 months, and Lavinia, aged three, were there to mix with the people they knew well from living on the Avenue.

Underdale Av Shrewsbury Street Party

Kathryn said: "It's about getting together and saying hello."

It was also a busy day for local policing teams. PCSO Jacqui Baldwin and PC Simon Lewis, of the rural safer neighbourhood team, came to town to help their colleagues. They were doing their rounds of a number of street parties and to check everything was going OK.

There were also events in Telford, including in Madeley where the town council used a grant from Telford & Wrekin Council to work with the Anstice Community Trust to organise a party. It had been due to be held outdoors but moved inside when the forecast became clear.

Madeley Town Clerk Alison Hinks said about 250 bags of food were picked up by local children and locals snapped up about 150 cream teas.

The Anstice Centre ballroom became a focal point for a screening of the events in London an for the gathering. Prizes were also handed out to best dressed window and market stall.

Cookes Creations won the market crown while the Severn Hospice Shop, bedecked in red, white and blue, won the window contest.

Alison said: "Everybody joined in. It was very local and patriotic with locally made knitted bunting.

Coronation Street Party at Madeley. Toby Lerone from Showstpppers with L/R Evie Bloomer(7) with sister Ellie( 8) from Madeley

"It was worth the effort of hosting a free event for the local community."

Town mayor Councillor Helena Morgan and Deputy Lieutenant Gareth Williams also showed off a special commemorative plaque for the town. Similar plaques are being made available for communities across the county.

"Madeley Town Council will make a decision on its location at a future meeting," said Alison. "We are planning a summer event to mark that occasion."

Coronation Street Party at Madeley. Mayor of Madeley Helena Morgan with Gareth Williams, Deputy Lieutenant

Families from Shropshire also made the effort to go to see the coronation in the capital.

Michelle and Tim Barnes, from Shifnal, decided to pull out all the stops and travel by train with children Maggie, nine, and Jake, six, on Thursday, staying until Sunday.

On the first day, they were walking around outside Buckingham Palace when Maggie and Jake were interviewed for BBC's Newsround children's programme.

Jake Barnes, aged six, from Shifnal, was interviewed on BBC's Newround. Picture: Michelle Barnes

"They used a piece from Jake's interview," said Michelle. "He was asked about why he was there. He said he wanted to see the King wave to him.

"Then in the parade he saw him waving, he was pleased about that," said Michelle, who planned ahead and took steps along to be able to see over the crowd. The children were on their shoulders to get a better view of the Golden Coach.

Brother and sister Maggie, aged nine, and Jake Barnes, aged six, in St James's Park, London

"We walked and walked and walked and got onto The Mall for the flypast," she said.

"We are all really tired but so glad we made the effort, it was a fantastic atmosphere.

"It was a historical moment and when the children are older that will be able to say we were there," said Michelle, 45.