The Queen's Diamond Jubilee
weekend in June witnessed a spectacular finale as more than 4,200 beacons were lit throughout the UK and around the world. At around 10.30pm, after the BBC concert in front of Buckingham Palace, Norfolk
man Bruno Peek,
the Pageantmaster, handed Her Majesty the Jubilee Crystal Diamond which triggered the lighting of the National Beacon
on The Mall. Millions of people watched on television.
Bruno, from Gorleston-on-Sea
, has just been made a Lieutenant of The Royal Victorian Order by the Queen for his part in the Jubilee celebrations. He has been responsible for a large number of the biggest celebrations of people coming together to commemorate unique national and international historic events.
For Bruno, it started just over 30 years ago. While working as a welder he was asked to spearhead a local carnival and to set up a committee. With over 100 floats, a route which included Nelson's Column in Great Yarmouth
and massive public support, he realised: "This is what I want to do."
Within two years he was working full-time and in 1992 he conceived and organised Beacon Europe
where over 1,000 beacon signal fires were lit across the 12 countries of the European Community.
The VE Day 50th Celebration in 1995 attracted over 1,500 street parties and events with over 2,000 beacons. The year 2000 included Trafalgar Night, Nelson Returns to England
and the Millennium Beacon
Very important to Bruno is that the events with beacons are held in association with local community events large and small, which has helped them raise funds for their own charities.
In the past, Bruno has led teams of up to 23 staff to co-ordinate the lighting of beacons to commemorate events such as the Queen's Golden Jubilee
in 2002. There is considerable planning, persuading famous people and opinion formers, obtaining permissions and funding often through sponsorship.
There are three types of beacon - Bonfire Beacons, Beacon Braziers and Church Tower Beacons fuelled by gas. Back in 1588, chains of beacons on church towers provided the country's early warning system against the Spanish Armada invaders.
Bruno was born in King's Lynn to Polish parents, and then adopted by "loving Christian parents". Charity has been close to his heart and in 2009 he felt a call to sell his home to move to and work at a children's home in Kenya which he had supported for many years. On route, with few belongings, he was taken ill, and had to abandon the move and for the next year he lived with friends.
With the support of the church family at St Andrew's Parish Church
in Gorleston, he began recuperating, not expecting to return to his former work. Then, within a two-week period, the Queen's Private Secretary followed by a representative from the Royal British Legion
unexpectedly made contact and initiated meetings. Bruno reflects: "God has given me great talents in bringing people together. He re-opened doors and this is what I am supposed to do. So I started again."
Working from an office at home with Spike Allibone
, a Christian friend from Scotland, amazing things happened and pieces fell into place: "I had the element of peace, even concerns caused me no panic."
With two years of planning complete, Bruno stood on stage in his uniform on June 4, with the Queen, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Sir Tom Jones
Recognition of his work includes the CBE, MVO and Freeman of the City of London.
Looking forward, Bruno predicts: "There is still an appetite for people to come together in communities and be involved. Even when things are bad, people can get uplifted."
Pictured above, the Queen lights the National Beacon on The Mall accompanied by pageantmaster Bruno Peek. Picture courtesy of Diego’s Sideburns.