City launches St George's Day campaign

LORNA MARSH Norwich yesterday launched a national crusade to celebrate St George's Day as the Lord Mayor became the first to drink from a special cup that will tour England before reaching a grand finale in Westminster.

LORNA MARSH

Norwich yesterday launched a national crusade to celebrate St George's Day as the Lord Mayor became the first to drink from a special cup that will tour England before reaching a grand finale in Westminster.

In each of England's 50 cities, apple juice in a specially-commissioned £30,000 'loving cup' will be drunk by civic dignitaries and people representing all walks of life in a grand version of a feast table ceremony that dates back more than 1,000 years.

It is all the brainchild of Lowestoft man Bruno Peek who has overseen successfully a number of key national celebrations, including the millennium, the Queen's golden jubilee and the Nelson bicentenary celebrations.

The loving cup will tour the country over the next few weeks and arrive in Westminster on April 23 to be paraded into a St George's Day banquet.

Lord Mayor of Norwich Felicity Hartley was the first to drink from the cup as it set off on its national journey from the city.

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Speaking at the ceremony yesterday, Mrs Hartley spoke of Norwich's connections to St George and its historical celebration of the patron saint.

The Guild of St George, a powerful medieval organisation that was a forerunner to the present council, held a parade each St George's Day through the city, but after the Reformation this became the Lord Mayor's procession.

Mrs Hartley said: "This ceremony is a mark of respect which puts us in touch with our past and in touch with each other in the present day."

Mr Peek hopes the whole country will unite in a day of celebration that will see national and local fundraising competitions, with cash going to three nominated charities: the Association for International Cancer Research, RNID representing the nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, and the Women's Royal Voluntary Service.

He said: "It is great that the tour started off from a city that has a real connection with St George's Day and which, as I am Norfolk-born, I regard as my home city."

For more information about the St George's Day events, visit the website www.celebratestgeorgesday.com