[dropcap]B[/dropcap]Before a gathering of several hundred participants the Duke of Richmond, dressed in his finest, escorted Cydney Green, chair of Richmond’s bicentennial celebrations, to her seat. The grand opening celebrations were about to get underway as military personnel from the 100th Regiment patrolled the grounds all around.
In a written note engraved on the program of events the Duke had relayed his heartfelt greetings and congratulations to all:
I am delighted to be championing the Richmond 200th anniversary celebrations. I am sure that my ancestor, the 4th Duke of Richmond would be amazed if he could see how the village named after him has grown and thrived since his untimely death from rabies just outside the village. The 4th Duke was both a colourful character (he famously fought a duel against the Duke of York, King George the III’s son) and a talented soldier. These went hand-in-hand with his love of sport, particularly cricket and horseracing, both of which thrive still today at Goodwood; he was even one of Thomas Lord’s backers when he bought the original Lord’s cricket ground. Today, we draw inspiration not only from him, but also from all those who blazed a path before us and laid the foundations for the future. I wish you all the very best for a wonderful year of celebrations. … signed Richard
It wasn’t long before the Governor Generals Foot Guards Ceremonial Band marched onto the grounds accompanied by a Guard of Honour comprised of members of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets.
Under a blazing evening sun the Duke inspected the Guard. Having passed inspection all were dismissed and Cydney Green was escorted to her seat by the Duke. The Governor Generals Band treated everyone present to a concert before departing the field.
Indigenous peoples representative Elder Verna McGregor extended a warm welcome. She spoke of the un-ceded lands upon which Richmond lies, the traditions and strong symbols of the Algonquin people and offered her welcome and blessing to the celebrations.
Cydney Green, escorted to the stage by the Duke, welcomed special guests and thanked all the volunteers and sponsors who were so instrumental in bringing the celebrations together. She provided a special acknowledgement and thanks to the core team of volunteers for their hundreds of hours of work and asked each present to stand to the warm applause of the guests present: Terri-Lyn Love; Tino Bevacqua; Joyce Cook; Sarah Wammes and Maryan Wammes.
Following Cydney, the gathered crowd was honoured with the presentation of several songs by the Canadian Military Wives Choir.
Doug and Pam Champaign then took the stage to sing a wonderful tribute written and performed especially for the Richmond 200 celebrations. Dignitaries in the audience,including the Duke got to their feet and started dancing in the setting sun. It was clear everyone was in a mood to party!
Finally, the Duke extend his best wishes to all and invited everyone to enjoy the celebrations which would continue into the evening with entertainment and a not to be missed fireworks show.
A cannon volley followed by a single sky rocket hinted at what was to come. The fireworks show, based on comments from those who witnessed it from around the village, was second to none and a real blast!