Children's peace festivities to be held

Children's peace celebration 1919

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: July 5th, 1919]

Considerable discussion ensued at the meeting on Thursday of the Council committee which is charged with the preparation of the programme of peace celebrations. It was decided to set apart two days as a festival for the juvenile element.

It was stated by Alderman Staddon that he had been assured that day, by Messrs Mappin & Webb, that the souvenir medals to be provided by Messrs Vyse & Sons would be delivered at Luton by August 20th.

The official day having been brought forward, it would have been impossible, in any case, for the firm to have carried through the order in time for the celebration on the 19th inst, and the debate centred round the question of what was, in the circumstances, the best method of distribution.

The Town Clerk said that August 20th was a rather significant date, because the schools reopened after the summer vacation on Monday, August 25th.

The Mayor [Councillor Impey] expressed the opinion that the proper place for the distribution of the medals was at the several schools.

The Town Clerk said his own idea was rather in favour of Wardown as the venue, and he suggested that the ceremony should be carried out by Mrs Thirkell, representing the generous donors, assisted by the Mayoress and Mrs Staddon.

Councillor Barford: “Make it a sort of investiture, you mean?” The Town Clerk: “Something of the sort.”

Alderman Staddon said his idea was that matters of detail could be left till a later stage, but whatever was done he wanted to see this made a real children's day. All that he regarded as essential at the moment was for the committee to approve the principle involved.

Councillor Primett, agreeing, said he was still of the opinion that the children were not being given the place in the celebration which should be theirs.

In the course of the general debate which followed, emphasis was laid by all speakers upon the necessity of securing the full co-operation and advice of the teaching staffs.

Opinion seemed to run in the direction of giving the whole of the children a tea and entertainment, Luton Hoo being, it was agreed, the appropriate place to hold such a function.

The provision of necessary funds was raised, and Alderman Staddon observed that he saw no difficulty there. There ought to be, and he was confident there were, five hundred people in Luton who would put down a guinea each for such a purpose. He suggested that the opening day of the new school term, August 25th, should be selected for this special children's festival. Councillor Primett seconded.

Mr Percy Carter, asked for his views, said such a procedure would undoubtedly prejudice very considerably the attendance record for that week. He thought the better course for scholars to begin on Monday, as at present arranged, and for Thursday and Friday to be allocated as school holidays for the purpose desired.

“After all,” remarked Mr Carter, “children do appreciate holidays, and I think, whatever you do, must be done from their point of view – not from a point of view which you think you ought not to take.”

The committee agreed unanimously with this view, and it was decided to proceed on these lines, detailed being deferred until the matter had been referred to the teaching staffs for their consideration and suggestions.

Returning to the matter of finance, the view was expressed that public subscription should be asked for, but that a suitable lead from the committee was essential if the desired end was to be realised.

Several members announced what steps they were prepared to take, the result being such as to indicate that a generous sum would be forthcoming from this source alone.

Further discussion ensued as to whether the tea could be better given in the schools or at Luton Hoo, but this point was finally left until a report has been received from the teachers.