The day rock royalty topped the bill in Northleigh

The Strawbs’ Dave Cousins did village proud with magnificent performance.

WHEN villagers in Northleigh decided to celebrate the Queen’s silver jubilee, they pulled out all the stops to make it an occasion they would never forget.

But it was made extra special - thanks to a celebrity.

Dave Cousins, front man of the legendary folk-rock band The Strawbs, lived in the village at the time and agreed to provide the evening entertainment.

Villager Richard Land recalls the celebrations started with a bonfire night.

“People from all over the village could be seen wending their way by road or through the fields to the big field high above Northleigh Hill, where the bonfire was sited,” he said.

“An enjoyable time was had by all. It would seem that even the animals could sense the atmosphere, since my two young cats walked with me, my wife and two children all the way through a field and a spinney, sat at the edge of the wood whilst the celebrations took place and walked back home with us when they had finished.”

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At dawn on the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, residents awoke to overcast, damp and drizzly weather. Preparations went ahead as planned and, after lunch, everyone gathered in the village hall - to wait to be transported, in procession, by a series of decorated tractors and trailers to the field.

“The highlight of the afternoon was the dog race, the likes of which I had never before seen,” said Mr Land. “It was a very happy afternoon for dogs and humans alike.”

Children’s sports followed and then a local farmer and his wife handed out commemorative mugs to children, each filled with a free apple.

Mr Land says the evening entertainment was “quite magnificent and something to live in the memory”.

“The band turned out to be a six-piece of the highest quality who, the day before, had been in Plymouth recording for the BBC,” he said.

“The music they provided was up-to-the-minute, superb and perfect to dance to. They had two vocalists, a man and a girl, who were excellent. Come the interval, Dave Cousins took to the stage to sing his hit Part of the Union.

“It was a day that will forever live, with affection, in my memory and it took place in a tiny village in Devon with a population, at that time, of about 128 people. But what people they were and how lucky I was, and still am, to live amongst them.”