GEORGE CHANT provided suitably regal connections to an event to celebrate the Regis in Bognor Regis.
George was among the special guests at a tea party staged by the town’s mayor, Cllr Phil Woodall, to mark the 90th anniversary of the granting of the royal suffix by King George V.
George, who is also 90, said: “I believe I was named after the King. I was born in January, 1929, on Park Farm in Lagness and then lived in Steyne Street.”
George was the only Bognorian among the some 20 guests at Friday’s event – and his current address of King George Court in the town also maintains his royal connections.
“It’s a very good idea to have this tea party to celebrate 90 years of Regis,” he said.
“I’ve always known the town as Bognor Regis. I’ve lived here all my life. I would like to see some of the old shops come back.
“I think people would like to the little shops, like we used to have. That’s what people want.”
All the guests at the tea party in a studio at the Regis Centre last Friday afternoon were aged at least 90. They enjoyed tea and cakes plus a gift bag each.
Entertainment was provided by singer Sarah Simmonds to get some of the guests on their feet and dancing, pictured right.
Seaward Court resident Joan Allison, 90, wore her tiara for the occasion. “The mayor said I should wear it and I’m on the top table, so I definitely feel special,” she said.
Earlier in the day, the 90th anniversary celebrations had begun when Cllr Woodall unveiled a blue plaque at Bognor Regis Town Hall in memory of the King’s stay.
He revealed the plaque in front of a small group of people. It states: ‘King George V bequeathed the title of Regis on the Town after convalescing here in 1929’.
Cllr Woodall spoke briefly about the King’s time at Craigweil House and the fact Queen Mary attended churches in Pagham and South Bersted and shopped around the town.
The plaque is the fourth in a planned ten-strong heritage trail by the Bognor Regis Heritage Partnership Board.
Its chairman, Ken Blamires, said: “Bognor is the last town to have been given the Regis status.
“This plaque promotes its links to royalty, which go back to its founder, Sir Richard Hotham, and Princess Charlotte, who stayed at The Dome, soon afterwards.
“It’s important that is recognised. It’s something to be proud of.”
The anniversary celebrations continued on Sunday afternoon with two musical events. Cllr Woodall hosted a concert at the Hotham Park bandstand with the Bognor Regis Concert Band.
Some 200 people attended to enjoy the two hours of music amid the trees in the sunshine. Among them was Littlehampton resident Jan Leightley. She said: “I enjoy these afternoons in the park. Three of us have come along today.
“It’s relaxing and makes a nice, pleasant change to sit and listen to something that’s quite old-fashioned.
“This is a lovely park and I often come here from Littlehampton. These events are a good way of bringing people today. These days, people don’t mix as much as they used to.”
Cllr Woodall joined with the town crier, Jane Smith, to sing along to the Tony Christie hit, (Is This The Way To) Amarillo, at one point in the concert.
“I’m really pleased with the turnout. I’ve seen people come along, like what they’re hearing and decide to sit down. It’s been definitely worth doing,” he said.
At the town’s museum, Andrew and Pauline Wilkinson took along 81 of their collection of 1920s and 30s shellac records, plus gramophones, from that period.
The fascinating event recreated the music which Bognor’s residents would have listened to when the King was on his 13-week convalescence from a lung illness.
Margaret Height was among the steady stream of visitors who travelled back in time when she called in on a family holiday from Leamington Spa.
She said: “I was born in 1953 and I remember my parents having one of these (HMV 130 gramophone) with its heavy pick up head with a needle.
“As children, we were shown how put the needle in. We had to screw it in to keep it in place.
“It’s wonderful to see this equipment in such good condition and sounding so well.”
The 78rpm records included Tommy Handley and 20s singing superstars Layton & Johnstone.