Struck by a wave of patriotism

ST GEORGE S Day may not be a public holiday, but the people of Havering rose to the occasion with four days of celebration in honour of England s patron saint. A red and white tsunami of patriotism swept through Romford Market Place on Saturday for the

ST GEORGE'S Day may not be a public holiday, but the people of Havering 'rose' to the occasion with four days of celebration in honour of England's patron saint.

A red and white tsunami of patriotism swept through Romford Market Place on Saturday for the official Havering Council-led festivities, which saw traditional English Morris dancing from students of the Royal Liberty School, in Upper Brentwood Road, Gidea Park, tricks from magician Roger Arnay, face painting, a loudmouthed town crier, and performances from the Havering Majorettes.

Council leader, Michael White, said: "My wife and I had a fantastic day at the St George's Day celebrations in Romford on Saturday. It's always good to hold our important celebrations at the weekend so all the children can join in.

"Our 800 year old market is the ideal place to celebrate England's long history and everything that makes our country great."

Leader of the patriotic pack, Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, was in Romford Market last Friday to drum up support amongst shoppers for his a long-running campaign to gain official recognition for England's patron saint.

Mr Rosindell, who is chairman of the St. George's Day All Party Parliamentary Group, said: "I believe all the people of England should be able to celebrate St George's Day and although the day's still not a public holiday, it didn't stop the people of Romford from celebrating.

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"Every country in the world has a day to celebrate its traditions and heritage and it is time St. George's Day was officially declared a public holiday."

It followed Mr Rosindell's St George's Day reception at the House of Commons, where the current Miss England, Laura Coleman, was guest of honour.

National Liberal Party chairman David Durant, who is also chairman of the Romford and Hornchurch St George's Committee, was in Hornchurch High Street last Thursday handing out leaflets and roses - donated by Molly's Florist in Billet Lane Hornchurch - to promote an official St George's Day holiday.

There were smaller but no less significant nods to St George as individuals and groups got together - some raising money for charity in the process.

Tireless bar staff at the Harrow Pub, in Hornchurch Road, Hornchurch, raised �400 with a 12-hour bikeathon for children's charity First Step.

Assistant manager Sian Ridgewell said: "We all did about two-three hours on the bikes dressed up in red and white. Our legs were like jelly at then end, but it was worth it."

A giant handmade cross of St George was draped proudly across The Slater's Arms in London Road, Romford, where a charity raffle raised hundreds of pounds for the Little Havens children's hospice.

Licensee, Stephanie King, said: "It was a brilliant day - we're known for putting on a big St George's Day party."

Songs from old England were heard drifting from Little Gaynes nursing home in Corbets Tey Road, Hornchurch, on Thursday as the 15 residents and their guests enjoyed a patriotic knees-up, which included a buffet and an open mic sing-along.

Manager Pat Cogley said: "We love to celebrate these occasions - it keeps the residents in touch with reality."

Infant and junior pupils at RT Mitchell Primary School, in Tangmere Crescent, Hornchurch, showed their national pride in a red, white or blue-themed non-uniform day.

Local entertainer The Skittle Man stirred up the festive sprit with fun and games.

Head teacher Barry Read said: "It was a fantastic day organised by the PTA - we're keen to celebrate all sorts of festivals, and this is was one of the best."

More than a thousand Beavers, Cubs and Scouts from Romford, Squirrels Heath and Hornchurch District Scouts marched in three separate parades on Sunday afternoon - in the name of their patron, St George, and to renew their Scouting promise.

Paul Leeper, Romford District Commissioner, said: "It's the most important day in the Scouts' calendar. It's a chance for all of us to get together and proudly show ourselves off."

Havering Mayor Cllr John Clark had a busy weekend, appearing as guest of honour at Hornchurch Scout service in Emerson Park School, in Wych Elm Road.

He also attended the St George's Church in Kenilworth Gardens, Hornchurch, on Thursday where lay preacher Pat Wright spoke on the theme of past, present and future.

Cllr Clark said: "It was a fantastic service, full of the sprit of St George's Day.

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