'Running on adrenaline' - the Jubilee pageant master's story

Pageantmaster Bruno Peek.

Pageantmaster Bruno Peek. - Credit: Denise Bradley

As over 3,000 beacons are lit over the UK and Commonwealth on Thursday June 2 organiser Bruno Peek will feel a whole range of emotions from nerves, pride, relief, and joy.

Chances are every organising body behind each one of those blazing symbols will have been in contact with the Gorleston organiser, who has been getting up at around 2.30am every day just to deal with the sheer amount of communication and planning involved in organising the biggest mega-event of his life.

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth ll came to Great Yarmouth-the first visit to the town by a reigni

The Queen in Great Yarmouth in 1985 - Credit: Archant

At 70 he is also marking a platinum milestone and it is experience - this being his third Jubilee -  that is making it all happen, he hopes with military precision.

"It is huge," he said.

"This is the last time we will see a platinum jubilee for hundreds of years.

"For me it has been one of the hardest and busiest times ever.

"I am still getting people confirming beacons now. 

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"For the last six weeks I have been getting up at 2.30am. It's not just the beacons, it's the 1,300 pipers, the choirs, the town criers and communicating with people all over the world.

Bruno Peek by the globe

Bruno Peek next to his unique Jubilee Globe, which is made of silver, gold, diamonds and platinum - marking all four of the Queen's jubilees. - Credit: TMS Media

"Lots of people were holding back in the early days because of Covid, and then the cost of living.

"But when the British want to do something, they do it properly.

"I must admit I am running on adrenaline and not sleeping very well.

"It's a big responsibility. I am always nervous, I never get complacent. But I do not worry about what I cannot do anything about."

"I have always said the Queen has been a beacon of life and service in our country. So the least we can do is light up the world in tribute.

"It is a great honour. I often pinch myself."

The first beacon, of over 3,000, will be lit in the Pacific nation of Tonga and New Zealand, before heading west through the various time zones ending in Belize.

The principal beacon will be lit at Buckingham Palace by a senior royal, with Mr Peek at their side. This will take the form of a lighting installation with The Queen’s Green Canopy ‘Tree of Trees’ sculpture and projections onto the front of the palace.

Mr Peek said he and his wife Moira were proud to have paid for the refurbishment of the Great Yarmouth beacon on the seafront near Joyland and also the installation of a commemorative plaque.

At the time of going to press 120 beacons were due to be lit across Norfolk.

How it started

If it hadn't been for the generosity of four Great Yarmouth businessmen almost four decades ago none of this would ever have happened, Mr Peek said.

Some 39 years ago, when he realised Yarmouth did not have a carnival, Rodney Scott, Terry Hall, Kerry McOurcy and Colin Gapes each gave him £500 to get the ball rolling which was a lot of money then, he said.

It lead to him and a  small team pulling off the biggest carnival the town had ever seen with over 100 "proper" floats.

"They put their faith in me and I will always be indebted to them," he said.

From then on he became involved in numerous commemorative events including Nelson's Return to Great Yarmouth and the re-enactment of Queen Elizabeth 1's speech at Tilbury.

Bruno’s beacons

A chain of 90 coastal beacons for the English Tourist Board in 1981.  

A thousand beacons across the 12 countries of the European Community to mark the launch of the Single European Market in 1992.  

Chains of beacons to mark the 40th and 50th anniversaries of VE Day in 1995 and 2005.  

On December 31,1999 Mr Peek handed the Queen a ceremonial torch to light the National Beacon on the River Thames, the first of more than 1,300 beacons around the country marking the start Britain’s year-long millennium celebrations.   

The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.  

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 when thousands lined the streets and millions watched on television as he handed the Queen the Jubilee Crystal Diamond to light the National Beacon on The Mall in London. 

The bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2016. Mr Peek handed the torch for the Queen to light the Portsmouth beacon and her children the Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex also lit beacons around the country.