WHEN the Queen placed the giant diamond-shaped crystal into its holder to light the last of thousands of diamond jubilee beacons around the country on Monday night, Selkirk’s James Maybury was watching from the wings to make sure everything went smoothly.
Design engineer James has run his own firm in the town for 12 years and worked on previous big events and conferences, including designing the voting system for the Scottish Parliament and equipment for the G20 summit of world leaders.
And when the company manufacturing the thousands of gas-powered jubilee beacons could not keep up with demand, James’ workshop – Fountain Designs – made an extra 100.
These included the beacons used at high-profile sites such as Edinburgh Castle and Treetops safari lodge in Kenya. The latter was where the young Princess Elizabeth was staying when she learned of the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952.
“When the original supplier of beacons couldn’t keep up with the unexpectedly-high orders, we were asked if we could supply those still wanting them,” James, son of a former Jedburgh minister, explained.
With only six weeks until the jubilee weekend, James linked up with 21cc fireworks, the firm which supplied the gas system and handled orders.
The beacons were made by a team brought together by James, including Selkirk engineers T & R Keddie. They were then shipped out all over Scotland, England and Ireland, as well as the famous one in Kenya. James also had to create the special podium, into which the Queen placed the crystal which activated the lighting of the giant beacon at the end of The Mall in London at the end of the jubilee concert.
James was actually on stage at the end of the concert for the lighting of the beacon by the monarch, but says he wasn’t nervous – “I was reasonably relaxed about it working and it was a great concert!”