Filipino ambassador celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in first ever Norwich-area visit

Wellington boots replaced smart shoes and trays of treats became spades and trees.

But the reception at Hillside Avenue allotments nature reserve to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee today was fit for an ambassador, albeit minus the Ferrero Rocher.

And so it came to pass as Enrique Manalo embarked on the first ever official Filipino ambassadorial visit to the Norwich-area.

Families, dignitaries and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith gathered today to mark the two occasions in Thorpe St Andrew with a tree planting ceremony and the unveiling of a plaque in honour of Queen Elizabeth II.

Mr Manalo, Philippine Ambassador to the UK, said: 'We've a large Filipino community in Norwich and a number of them work as nurses in the hospital. We provide an outreach service and try to visit Filipino communities in the UK to provide consulate services, so they don't have to travel to London.

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'Another reason is we've had relations for 60 years but no other Filipino ambassador has made an official visit to Norwich.

'It's my first official visit as ambassador to the UK, we chose Norwich and I think I will have to come back.'

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The ambassador's delegation was treated to a sunny afternoon, although Miss Smith's office had sourced emergency wellies just in case the weather took a turn for the worse.

And Miss Smith said she was delighted to have had the chance to 'show off the best we have in and around the city'.

Mr Manalo planted a Leeders Perfection tree, from Postwick, while for Miss Smith it was a Dr Harvey apple tree, regarded by many as a Norfolk apple.

Several more Norfolk tree varieties were found a home during the ceremony with further plantings planned around the town this year to mark the jubilee.

Ian Mackie, deputy mayor for Thorpe St Andrew, said the celebrations in June will also include live music and the lighting of a beacon.

He said: 'It's getting that balance right. Some things we want to be able to celebrate on the bank holiday weekend in June but these trees are a permanent way to mark the occasion. It's nice to see the children and families, young and old. I think the Diamond Jubilee is going to be a really special event.

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