Liberation Day could stay as a community-based celebration

THE FUTURE of the island’s Liberation Day celebrations and their emphasis on Town is being reviewed, after Sunday’s festivities were judged a big success.

Covid-19 affected the island’s national day for a second year running, but the cavalcade, which this year toured all the parishes, became the star attraction.

Education, Sport & Culture president Andrea Dudley-Owen said the special day had always changed over time.

‘I think this year does mark a sea change because Liberation Day has evolved over decades.

‘Not too long after the war people did not really celebrate the day and it took a while to develop and get going.

‘Certainly when I was a child there was an around-island cavalcade once or twice, it then developed into a bit more of a free-for-all in Town by the time I was a teenager, and in recent years it has been refocused on families.’

On 9 May 1945, HMS Bulldog arrived at St Peter Port and the Allied forces came ashore and were met by big crowds who were cheering, singing, crying and waving flags.

The cavalcade was a popular attraction at this year's Liberation Day. (29535091)

For many years the Town piers have been the main focus of subsequent Liberation Days, with stalls and traditional games such as crown and anchor.

It has grown from a day of solemn reflection into a unifying celebration of the good fortune of living in Guernsey.

After 76 years, the number of people who have direct memories of the Occupation is dwindling, and Deputy Dudley-Owen said Covid-19 was an opportunity to reassess the celebrations.

‘It has been a great privilege to work on this and I do think it’s time for the island to take stock and think about those whether big events, which maybe aren’t as accessible to all our community, are still what we want to continue seeing in the future.

‘I think the spirit of Liberation Day has always been around small communities.

‘Covid has reinvigorated that more local sense of community.

‘We just have to be mindful of how people want these events and the day to evolve.’

Cavalcade a highlight for many

A STRAW poll of people in Town yesterday found that the cavalcade was the most popular part of the Liberation Day celebrations.

Out of 60 people surveyed, 22 said they had watched the drive-by of old vehicles.

Only 11 of the 60 said that they did nothing and a further 10 said they could not get involved because they were working.

Private get-togethers of friends and families were another popular way to spend Liberation Day, with 19 of the respondents indicating that choice.

The unofficial survey also showed that community events were well attended, with 18 people stating that they had enjoyed them.

The Venture Inn, the Last Post and the St Saviour’s rectory gardens were all mentioned in the responses.

Celebrations of the 76th Liberation Day. (29535086)

Twelve people said they had seen the evening firework display, but mainly watching from home, while nine people went to the pub. No one said they had watched the Town Church service or the commemorative wreath laying.

Pensioner Andrew Mauger had a wonderful day. ‘I went to the Venture Inn with the grandchildren and they had a great time on the bouncy castles, and I could see the cavalcade from the garden and people were waving flags and I lifted a glass of wine to them.’

Manny Butcher was disappointed that concerns about Covid-19 had put paid to the traditional celebrations in Town.

‘Everyone had to organise their own events because the States couldn’t organise themselves, they couldn’t organise anything, it was all left to the people.’

Student Noah Le Noury said Liberation Day was important for the island’s identity.

‘I was meant to be studying but I went to the pub twice with my friends, and I saw the cavalcade from my bicycle and it looked impressive, and the fireworks in the evening.

‘My grandparents were evacuated during the war and they’ve told me all about it and they’ve put out flags from their windows. I think the younger generation are keen to keep the traditions going. It’s a fun day.’

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