The Bucklebury Royal Wedding diary
PUBLISHED: 01:16 20 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:24 20 February 2013
Villager Liz Peplow provides an exclusive and intimate record of the Big Day when <br/><br/>local girl Kate Middleton married Prince William and became the Duchess of Cambridge. Images: Oli Brooke and Jane Brooke
THURSDAY, APRIL 28
5.30am: Gates open at Bucklebury Farm Park and the BBC satellite truck is already waiting. They are joined by a host of others who want to capture every detail of the countdown. Maureen Baillie, the farm parks catering supremo, is soon sending a steady stream of hot bacon rolls and coffee in the direction of what is fast becoming a sat truck convention.
6.50am: The first live broadcast from the farm takes place and we all scramble excitedly into the (warm) BBC truck to watch. BBC reporter John Kay has done a quick tour of the farm and, true to his trade, made a beeline for the wooden castle in the play area... From Bucklebury all the way to Buckingham Palace, could this have been Kates first castle?
9am: A steady stream of helpers carry armfuls of bunting and buckets of flowers for the tea tent. Claire Shepherd starts to bring over and assemble the giant wedding cake, complete with lighting, that will take centre stage.
Noon: Tim Wale, who makes the knock out local Tutts Clump Cider, drops off supplies. Hes tempted to stay and chat, marvelling at the tented village springing up, but must deliver to five more local events.
4pm: The stage is assembled and the jolly sound crew start playing a medley of hits by Madness. It Must Be Love booms out across the valley.
4.30pm: Daniel Nicholls, conductor of choir Enharmonic, Catherines piano teacher and composer of Kate (and Williams) Song, arrives for sound checks. His wife Sandra reveals that their son Ollie,
a member of the choir, is taking his driving test on the morning of Royal Wedding Day it later transpires that Ollie, like certain other young residents of Chapel Row, has passed a big test on April 29 with flying colours.
6pm: The choir from Brockhurst School starts rehearsals its another hair standing up on the back of the neck moment.
7pm: Racing against time, the scouts arrive (by tractor) and leap enthusiastically into decorating the trailers that will carry party-goers from across the village.
10pm: Theres a curfew at the farm and all on-site teams are meant to be back for the gates to be locked. But there are some stragglers and farm manager Oli Brooke is woken several times with mobile phone calls. Apparently our visitors have enjoyed sampling local West Berks ale.
FRIDAY, APRIL 29
6.30am: The skies look a little ominous, but its not raining! Nerves are beginning to jangle, but our amazing event logistics guru, Andrew Munro-Seer, a native of Bucklebury and a young veteran of events like Badminton and Goodwood, reassures us.
9am: A total of 2,500 invites have been snapped up. When a family who have travelled down from Manchester arrive at the gate (three hours early) we feel mean but redirect them up the hill to the two pubs, the Bladebone and Cottage Inn, where all the morning action is revving up.
9.30am: Our little committee starts to feel slightly grown up when health and safety advisor Ray Hipkin hands out radios and gives us our briefing. There is a fair bit of self-conscious fumbling and timid over and outs. Thankfully, there were no big emergencies and we can all laugh later at one of the biggest crises an urgent search for a bottle opener wafting over the airwaves.
10.30am: The big screen kindly provided by Sky is becoming the centre of attention. Its all happening just 50 miles away but seems slightly surreal. Suddenly people watching start seeing friends from the village in the Abbey and a connection is made this really is our day, too.
11am: We catch our first glimpse of Catherines dress there is a collective intake of breath and unanimous verdict that its perfect. There is also universal approval for the trees that line the aisle its almost like a country wedding in the city, someone says.
Noon: Our first guests arrive and we are not quite ready. Can we hold them back until the official opening at 12.30? There is plenty of chatter this day will be about old friends and neighbours getting together in common cause. At 1pmThe Difference, a five-piece band of local teenagers, get the party started at their biggest gig to date.
1.30pm: With an eye for the dramatic, Robert Jolley our stage impresario, together with commentator Nick Brooks-Ward,
gets the timing just right to switch the action over from the stage to the big screen... and we go live to London for the balcony kiss.
2pm: There is a dash for the wine provided by Peaches Stores and Spar for our collective toast to the couple. We have agreed that the toast will be timed precisely with the start of the three-hour bell peel at St Marys church. Nick Brookes-Ward leads us through the toast perfectly but there is no sound of the bells the committee cries Where are the bells? Someone phone them! and then across the fields, quieter than expected as the wind is in the wrong direction, we hear the faint chime.
3pm: Tractor rides to and from the village are in full swing. Even at this stage, queues are long, especially outside Peaches Stores.
In all, we do 40 rides carrying around 1,200 passengers.
3.30pm: The giant cake is cut and delivered around the park to villagers camped on picnic blankets, straw bales and deck chairs. Clare Shepherds cake is glorious and the gesture of a piece for every single guest, thanks to the kind support of Hash and Chan at Peaches Stores, is well received.
4.30pm: The crown and tiara contest is a bit of a bun-fight and not quite going according to plan, but by this stage it is all good natured fun. The happy winners are presented with their prizes by Bucklebury district councillor and West Berkshire Chairman Graham Pask.
5.40pm: Opera singer Davina Adshead, a star in the West End, dazzles her neighbours with a stunning performance.
6.15pm: The flags are waving and we are live on the BBC and ITV as we build to our own proms-style crescendo. Shots of us singing Land of Hope and Glory in the perfect bowl-shaped amphitheatre of Bucklebury Farm Park zoom around the world a peculiarly British moment.
8pm: The last tractor and trailer leaves the park with passengers bound for fireworks at the Cottage Inn, or fancy dress at the Bladebone.
Its been a day to remember and it later transpires that ours was the largest open-air party outside London proving that given the excuse, the people of Bucklebury really do know how to party in style! J