Neighbours celebrate 33 years on

IPSWICH: It has long been argued that community spirit is dying – a victim of the Asbo culture, increasingly busy lives and the rise of cyberspace socialising.

But try telling that to the residents of Belle Vue Road and Ashmere Grove.

In a scene that has become increasingly rare in recent years, around 100 neighbours came together for a street party over the bank holiday weekend.

The celebrations were inspired by an outdoor party held in the two roads to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee 33 years ago when community relations were at a peak.

The idea came about during a chance conversation about an old photograph of the 1977 bash which featured in The Evening Star.

A small band of neighbours then sought to recapture the spirit of yesteryear – which proved extremely successful, if these now-and-then photographs are anything to go by.

Beryl MacRae, who appears in both pictures, said: “Last year, we held a farewell party for a friend who was going abroad. I was speaking to my son’s partner, Ellie Degory, and another neighbour, Jo Hall, when the topic of the 1977 street party came up.

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“I dashed home to get the photograph and we thought, ‘let’s do another one!’

“There were lots and lots of street parties back then (in 1977). We had never experienced anything like that.

“Fortunately for us, an Evening Star photographer turned up, which gave us a lovely picture taken from a bedroom window.”

The 65-year-old grandmother, who lives in Belle Vue Road with her husband, John, started the ball rolling last August by gauging interest in the party.

The response was immediately positive, so they began planning and sought permission to have Belle Vue Road closed while they held the village fete-style knees-up last bank holiday Monday.

Activities included musical instrument-making, a tug-of-war competition and a largest vegetable contest.Afterwards they came together for a photo, taken by Mrs MacRae’s 17-year-old granddaughter, Liberty Brusaferro, studying A-level photography at Northgate High School.

Mrs MacRae said: “It was a total success. A good time was had by all and plans for future events are already being discussed.

“We have tried to reproduce the same kind of photograph as in 1977. The idea was to get a community feel like it was back then.”

n Is community spirit dead? Are you planning a street party of your own? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to