An Afternoon Tea Party for the Queen's Jubilee

Show notes (summary)

Village halls up and down the country have been organising events to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. So for this episode, we visited Chorleywood War Memorial Hall for a special Afternoon Tea Party, which entertained the locals and raised money to support an influx of Ukrainian refugees. As well as meeting and chatting with several residents, we spoke to a Ukrainian family sheltering here in the UK and there was some great entertainment too, from the Chorleywood Orchestra and the Chiltern Choir. Here’s what we encountered on our little trip out…

Transcript: Season 2 / Episode 11

Johnny Thomson 00:00
With the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations well underway and many of us enjoying a long weekend break, we thought we’d do something a little different this week. Hi, everyone. I’m Johnny Thomson and welcome to The Village Halls Podcast sponsored by Allied Westminster, the UK’s largest specialist provider of village hall insurance and the home of VillageGuard. Now, it is, of course, a very special weekend with village, church and community halls up and down the country organising events to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. And so rather than sitting here in the studio, I thought it would make a nice change to get out and about and visit one such hall and get a flavour of everything that’s going on. So this week, I headed off to Chorleywood War Memorial Hall to meet two wonderful ladies from the Parish Council, Debbie Rosario and Yvonne Merritt, who along with other council staff and volunteers, organised an Afternoon Tea Party to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70 year milestone. The event not only entertained the locals, but raised money to support an influx of Ukrainian refugees. As well as meeting and chatting with several residents. I also spoke to a Ukrainian family sheltering here in the UK, who had also come along to the event. And there was some great entertainment too from the Chorleywood Orchestra and the Chiltern Choir. Here’s what I encountered on my little trip out. So here we are, I’ve arrived at Chorleywood in Hertfordshire, where the Parish Council have arranged all kinds of events to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. So all I have to do now is find my way round to Chorleywood Memorial Hall, where they’re about to hold an Afternoon Tea Party to get everyone into a celebratory mood. Okay, so here I am, I’ve arrived at the Hall, which is a very striking building adorned as you would expect with Union Jacks. And a sign showing the years 1914 to 1918, the hall, of course, being built in honour and to remember those that fell during the First World War. So let’s get inside, join in with the celebrations, grab a cup of tea, and a little bit of cake perhaps, and also meet some of the locals and those who’ve organised the Jubilee celebrations here in Chorleywood. So I’m joined now by Debbie and Yvonne, who have really been behind the organisation of today’s event. Tell me, Debbie, what’s today mean to the local community?

Debbie 02:54
I think it obviously is a celebration of the, you know, 70 glorious years of the Queen’s reign. I think, for lots of people here today, they will possibly either have been at the coronation parade, or would have watched it on television, possibly. So I think for them, you know, it probably brings back a happy time, probably brings back lots of memories of everything that they’ve seen in the past 70 years, and we really just wanted to get people together today, just to, you know, just just to allow them to celebrate that with other other people of their own age group and actually some younger people as well. So yeah, I think it’ll be it’s a really special day.

Johnny Thomson 03:35
And your role, you’re Chairman?

Debbie 03:37
I’m Chair of the Parish Council.

Johnny Thomson 03:41
Because there’s several village halls isn’t there in Chorleywood?

Debbie 03:44
Yeah, so in total we have five village halls. This is the biggest one. In fact this year it’s 100 years since this hall was built. So we’ve got another big celebration later on in the year

Johnny Thomson 03:56
Because of course it’s a Memorial Hall.

Debbie 03:57
It’s a Memorial Hall, 1922 it was built.

Johnny Thomson 04:02
And Yvonne, you’re…

Yvonne 04:09
I’m the Clerk to the Council

Johnny Thomson 04:11
And I’ve seen you running around frantically here before everything started. Getting everything organised.

Yvonne 04:17
Yeah, we’re a small team. We’ve only got five admin staff and we’ve put all this onto on today. When you work at Parish Council, you really have to be a jack of all trades, but actually, it’s quite good fun.

Johnny Thomson 04:28
And what does it involve? What have you… What is it you’re actually putting on for the people today?

Yvonne 04:31
Today everyone’s got an afternoon tea, which we’ve made ourselves. They’re also given a jubilee mug, which has been funded by the Parish Council and then we have an orchestra that’s going to play some music from a repertoire that the Queen has chosen as the favourite songs throughout the decades. And then we have the local choir who are also going to sing songs that no doubt will get the audience joining in.

Johnny Thomson 04:33
Wonderful. I’m looking forward to listening to that. And there’s there’s another side to this event as well, isn’t there? Because I know you’ve charged a small amount for the tickets and this is to raise funds for some Ukrainian refugees?

Yvonne 05:14
Yes, yeah, we have a number of Ukrainian refugees that have moved into the village and some of them really have nothing. So some of them are here with families, which isn’t so bad, but we have some that have been put into temporary accommodation that literally came with the clothes on their back. So as a community, we’ve been trying to, we have a Facebook page, people have been donating what they can manage, what they can afford or practical items and we’re just raising some money today to help towards that.

Johnny Thomson 05:47
And Debbie, how many people are you expecting here today?

Debbie 05:50
Well, anything up to 90. I think it’s probably a bit weather dependent, to be honest. But yeah, we had 90 people register. So we’re hoping they’ll all turn up.

Johnny Thomson 05:58
Because it is quite a large hall.

Debbie 06:00
Yes. Yeah, I think we have a capacity of 100. But obviously, with all the helpers…

Johnny Thomson 06:04
And what other sorts of events and facilities does this building regularly provide to the community?

Debbie 06:09
All sorts, I mean everything from, you know, birthday parties, to the film club, to AGM of things like the Resident’s Association, in fact our own our own AGM. We’ve had Diwali celebrations here. I mean, everything, any celebration that you can think of. And, you know, in November, we normally have a memorial service as well being a War Memorial Hall. We have a memorial service here. So it’s everything from, you know, really happy celebrations through to remembering things and events, community events like today.

Johnny Thomson 06:46
Are there events that you’ll be hosting to celebrate the 100 years. Have you got anything planned?

Debbie 06:51
Yes. So later on, we’re still sort of working on that, and the fine detail at the moment. But in essence, we’ll do something possibly not dissimilar to today. But again, we’ll have a range of sort of variety of acts. So yeah, you know, again, another sort of remembrance type celebration.

Johnny Thomson 07:08
And Yvonne, there’s quite a few things happening as well as this event isn’t there for the Platinum Jubilee, what else are you doing?

Yvonne 07:14
Tomorrow night, we’re actually lighting the beacon on the common. And that is part of the procession that’s going from Scotland all the way through to Buckingham Palace. So we’re very, we’ve been told it’s very specifically 9.30, it must be lit because it follows through. So we’ve got that and we’ve there’s an awful lot of street parties in Chorleywood, which is why we decided to do the events today and tomorrow evening, so that we didn’t clash with other local events. We’ve also given out over 1,000 Jubilee mugs to all the school children in the area, and the Chairman and Vice Chairman and myself have been giving those out with, that’s been fun, because we’ve been to lots of assemblies where, you know, the children are really learning about the royal family and what it means to be the Queen, which has been really interesting, from you know little three year olds singing the national anthem, right, the way up to sort of 11 and 12 year olds, sort of like giving monologues of what happened during the decades. So it’s been great.

Johnny Thomson 08:14
And what does this event mean to you, personally?

Yvonne 08:17
Well, I love this hall. And it’s just lovely to see community events going on, because it’s a village hall. It’s a village hall for the villagers, for the people. And I’m actually quite proud that we’ve got such a wonderful facility, we’re able to do this for people, because that’s, that’s our role as a Parish Council really, to support, you know, and put on nice things for our Parishoners.

Debbie 08:42
And I think after, you know, after two years ofCOVID and not being able to do those community type events, you know, this feels extra special. You know, it’s the first big event we’ve been able to put on post or say, post COVID. And I know we’re not quite out of it. But you know, it’s the first big event and you know, it’s an amazing event. You know, it’s historic. So I think, you know, for us, it’s a bit of a double whammy really. Real cause for celebration.

Johnny Thomson 09:10
Yeah, it’s a real one off.

Debbie 09:11
Yeah, it is a real one off, you know, and as I say, just, you know it feels like we’ve been allowed out to play, because we’ve actually been allowed to do this, you know, post the last few years that we’ve had. So, yeah, I think it has a special resonance for everybody. And I’ve obviously, you know, our role is to serve the community and it’s nice to be able to serve the community in this particular way, which we’ve really not been able to do for the last two years.

Johnny Thomson 09:37
Wonderful, well thank you both for allowing me to come along and gatecrash today.

Yvonne 09:41
You’re welcome.

Debbie 09:42
Thanks for coming along.

Johnny Thomson 09:43
And I think I’m going to go and mingle with a few of your guests, get their perspective on today’s event and obviously I’m looking forward to some of the entertainment coming along later.

Debbie 09:55
Don’t forget to have an afternoon tea while you’re at it!

Johnny Thomson 09:57
Absolutely. And some cake.

Debbie 09:58
Thank you very much. Thank you.

Yvonne 10:02
Thank you. Lots of cake.

Johnny Thomson 10:04
So Sharon, you’ve been doing the boxes I understand. What are the boxes exactly?

Sharon 10:12
The events coordinator had this fantastic idea of making up the cardboard boxes that you would get from a bakery, so that the residents could take the tea home with them if they didn’t manage to eat at all. So obviously, we’ve done pretty well we had donations, do we have Morrison’s were donating cakes weren’t there, and we’ve had sandwiches donated. So there’s quite a lot in the boxes, sandwiches, scones, cream, jam, and cakes. So yes, we thought the residents might not be able to eat all of it, so they might like to take it home. And there’s also a jubilee mug in there as well.

Johnny Thomson 10:47
So all of these sandwiches were kind of pre-prepared?

Sharon 10:50
So no, no, no. Let me see. We had two volunteers, plus the Chairman of the Council making sandwiches this morning. So we’ve had ham, cheese, egg. What was it one? Cucumber. Yeah. So they’ve been involved in making sandwiches as well as having sandwiches donated as well. It’s quite a spread.

Johnny Thomson 11:14
Well listen, I’ll leave it to you, because I can see you’re stirring…

Sharon 11:16
A hot pot of tea. Going down very well.

Johnny Thomson 11:25
Thank you. Brilliant stuff, thanks. So I’m joined here by Pooja and your daughter, who is called?

Pooja 12:07

Johnny Thomson 12:08
Ishika, and you’re the grand age of 7 years old yes? nd so why have you come along today Pooja?

Pooja 12:17
So we’ve been living in Chorleywood for eight years now, which is a beautiful village. And it’s just it was a great way just to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee and just give our support to the Ukrainian refugees.

Johnny Thomson 12:33
Absolutely. And you’re a big supporter of the of the village hall?

Pooja 12:37
Absolutely. We held Ishika’s birthday here, we’ve attended lots of school birthdays and events, and at the Chorleywood Village Hall it’s a fantastic venue.

Johnny Thomson 12:49
Just a great way to get to know everybody?

Pooja 12:52
Absolutely. And we have such a great community in Chorleywood, lovely community.

Johnny Thomson 12:57
Now I’m joined by a very interesting family who’ve travelled from Ukraine. What’s you’re name?

Olena 13:07
My name is Olena.

Johnny Thomson 13:08
And you’re here with your family?

Olena 13:10
Yeah, this my grandson Oleg and Danielo and this is my daughter, Tatiana and my daughter in law is Julia. I’m happy because he and he is grandsons here. In Ukraine, but very bad. My mom’s still in Ukraine. My daughter’s husband still in Ukraine. I’m like it here. I am. British people very good people for my family for my country. British people very helping me and my friends and people in Ukraine. I’m thank you so much people, British people.

Johnny Thomson 13:58
And have you enjoyed this afternoon?

Olena 14:01
Yeah, very nice. I’m very thank you.

Johnny Thomson 14:32
Okay, so now I’m joined by Andrew who is chairman of the Chorleywood orchestra. Wonderful, wonderful performance today.

Andrew 14:40
Thank you.

Johnny Thomson 14:42
And I understand the selection of of tunes was based around those that are the favourites of the Queen?

Andrew 14:50
When we knew we were going to play at this event, I Googled Queen’s favourite music and three of the ones that we played today were on that list. And old songs from the shows, you know, back in the day Gershwin and Irving Berlin. And so we thought it’d be nice to include those in then do a whole programme, pretty much of that kind of music.

Johnny Thomson 15:09
How long have you guys been together?

Andrew 15:10
Well, the orchestra has been going for five years. But this group this string quartet with clarinet, we’ve just been playing together for a few months.

Johnny Thomson 15:19

Andrew 15:19
Yeah, yes. Yeah. Yeah.

Johnny Thomson 15:21
A very polsihed perfomance, when you haven’t been together so long.

Andrew 15:22
Thank you. Yeah. Thanks. Yeah. And our viola player Alex did most of the arranging of the pieces we played today. So I arranged one or two of them, but he does most of our arranging.

Johnny Thomson 15:54
Hi Dorothy. Lovely to meet you.

Dorothy 15:56
Thank you.

Johnny Thomson 15:57
Have you enjoyed today’s event?

Dorothy 15:59
Wonderful. I didn’t expect to see everything like this. And the choir. I was thinking going back to my childhood, I used to sing lot’s of those songs at school.

Johnny Thomson 16:13
Yeah. Yeah. And the orchestra as well. They were they were pretty good.

Dorothy 16:17
They were very good. There was some of the songs, there again, I was I was singing quietly because I can’t see properly.

Johnny Thomson 16:27
Yeah. how old are you Dorothy, if you don’t mind me asking? 84, so you’ll remember. Can you remember the…

Dorothy 16:30
84. Beginning of the war?

Johnny Thomson 16:36
Yeah. And the coronation?

Dorothy 16:38
Coronation, yes. My auntie had one of the first televisions. And we didn’t have a television. But we went to her house and all the children sat on the floor, and the grown ups at the back. And it was a little nine inch television. Yes, I saw the coronation.

Johnny Thomson 17:00
And 70 years later.

Dorothy 17:02
I’m seeing it again.

Johnny Thomson 17:04
69 years since the coronation of course and here we are. And Queen Elizabeth has done very well hasn’t she?

Dorothy 17:12
Oh she’s a wonderful Queen.

Johnny Thomson 17:15
Hi, Helen. You’re from the local carehome, is that right?

Helen 17:18
Yes, Chorelywood Beaumont Carehome.

Johnny Thomson 17:20
Chorelywood Beaumont Carehome. And how many people have you brought along?

Helen 17:24
We brought six today.

Johnny Thomson 17:27
Ranging from what age to what age?

Helen 17:30
From 65 to 98!

Johnny Thomson 17:33
98! Yes because I was talking to Maisie before who is 97.

Helen 17:37
97, yes.

Johnny Thomson 17:38
Yeah. And I guess you guys have got a few things arranged for the for the rest of the weekend.

Helen 17:44
We have, we’ve got a fantastic, we’re going to the Chiltern Museum tomorrow for another tea party. Then we’ve got our own Garden Party on Friday. So we’ve invited the community, family and friends. So we’ve got lots of things happening, haven’t we? We’ve got our own choir coming to sing as well.

Flora 18:02
We went to the aeroplane place, didn’t we?

Helen 18:06
We did the Air Museum, didn’t we?

Flora 18:07
Yeah, we did, it was lovely. Very nice.

Johnny Thomson 18:12
And what’s your name?

Flora 18:13

Johnny Thomson 18:14
Flora, and you’ve enjoyed today Flora. You were one of the ones I was seeing having a little dance in your chair.

Flora 18:16
Well I can’t dance because I’ve hurt my legs. But I’m only 98, so…

Johnny Thomson 18:28
Only 98, two years older than the Queen.

Flora 18:35
Oh the Queen is lovely. We curtsey to the Queen as we go in don’t we

Helen 18:41
We do, we have a lovely cut out.

Flora 18:42
And every day, don’t we, we curtsey and wave to her in the mornings.

Johnny Thomson 19:27
Well what a fantastic event and well done to everyone at Charleywood Parish Council for bringing it all together. And thanks, as always, of course to our headline sponsor and specialist insurance provider Allied Westminster, for making our podcast possible, and whose services you can discover more about at And to online booking system provider Hallmaster, who also sponsor our podcast and can be found at You’ve been listening to The Village Halls Podcast, a unique listening community for Britain’s village, church and community halls and anyone interested in the vital community services they provide. Please visit for more information. Whatever you’ve got planned for the rest of the Platinum Jubilee weekend, I hope you all have a wonderful time. Enjoy the celebrations everyone. And until the next time, goodbye for now.