From September 2011 through to HM The Queen’s Jubilee weekend in June 2012, Judge the Poet, aka Ilmingtonian David Raeburn, has weaved his poetic magic on the village and the project.

Working through Ilmington school, in a series of lessons and workshops, he enabled the older children to originate their own poems about the Jubilee. In addition, the school’s Christmas production, 'A Fifties Christmas' provided a focus for using the poetic form to contrast life six decades ago with that of today. The children performed the poem as an integral part of the play.

To compliment his work in school, David also ran some highly successful workshops for the village. Over sixty people heard his special brand of poetry before trying their hand at writing their own verse. To everyone’s amazement, within two hours they had produced a poem- or two!

Christmas Then and Now

Now and then I wonder just how it must have been.
What was Christmas like when there was a brand new Queen?
Comparing the 1950s and today. What can we say? Do we celebrate our Christmas in a very different way?

Ice inside the windows. Outdoor toilets. Our fingers turning blue.
It wasn’t long since the war ended. We had to “make do”.
Central heating. Warm bathrooms, Our water running hot.
Sometimes we take for granted the things we have got.

There were no supermarkets. We went to many different shops.
With Tesco’s and online, the shopping never really stops.
A real Christmas tree dug up from the ground, very near.
Our plastic tree is used again and again, every year.

When we could afford to rent, yes rent, a television set
Black-and-white and fuzzy were the pictures we could get.
We have hundreds of channels, in colour, and computer games
And watch so many movies we can’t recall their names.

There was no great long build-up. It was brief time to share.
Our Christmas starts in September, with adverts everywhere.
Post on Christmas morning. You rushed to see what you had got.
Post delivered on Christmas morning? No, surely not!

Unmatched china. No dishwasher. Playing lots of games together.
And, as I remember, it was always such lovely snowy weather.
Sometimes it’s a white Christmas – just like how the song is sung.
But when I’m old I will say it always snowed when I was young!

A sixpenny piece in my pudding, if I was the lucky one.
A pound in mine, if you please, I want to have some fun!
We visited Grandma up the street, in our finest regalia.
We always Skype my Uncle Bob, who is over in Australia.

Not so many presents – lots of homemade gifts and toys.
String puppets and dolls for the girls. Trains for the boys.
DS, Wii and Gameboy. Perhaps a brand new mobile phone.
With all our texts and technology, we never feel alone.

At 3 o’clock we all sat down, so we could watch the Queen.
At 3 o’clock? Sitting together? Which Queen do you mean?
Queen Elizabeth II. It was all quite new and strange.
Queen Elizabeth is my Queen! Some things do not change…

Carol singing and school plays. Going to a pantomime.
Presents. Surprises. Father Christmas. Lovely family time.
Eating leftovers for ages. Having arguments and shouts.
Laughing, singing, playing, talking. BRUSSELS SPROUTS!
Playing charades. Socks for Dad. Wrapping paper in a heap.
Taking guesses exactly when our Granny will fall asleep!

Some things change. Some things do not. Time can be deceiving.
There’s still the joy and happiness, the giving and receiving.

And the real magic of Christmas is this – all else above –
It is a time for friends and family. It is a time of love.


The Crown of Life

This poem, written by Judge the Poet, is a fitting tribute to our story and to the vibrancy of our village, both today and in that era long past.

All around us this world can change – be it quickly or slowly,
And each person must wear the Crown – be they lordly or lowly.
The Crown Of Life has so many jewels and so many faces,
Passing from each generation to the next in different places.

The Crown Of Life reveals such love and laughter all around,
Where the memories of elders mix with a baby’s sound…
The world may change. Yet life and love remain simply true.
The old Crown can exist happily in every time so new.

When my father passed it to me, this quiet homely place
Was a very different community with a very different face.
Our water came from standpipes. No toilet or heating inside.
Yet, like today, we had friends to cherish and secrets to hide.

Many shops were in our village. No computers or TV to play.
Yet our politicians were still as unbelievable as today!
Weston-super-Mare, to us, seemed an exotic location;
It wasn’t considered a come-down to have a “staycation”!

But the trees, stones and river now laugh at my rhyme…
For they know the real meaning of the passage of time.
The Crown passes through many hands and so many lives
While they watch how our village just changes and survives.

Many families, one family. We may change in our scale and scope.
Yet, whatever the progress or setbacks, somehow we all cope.
For the Crown Of Life is passed. It is offered from above.
Protect it for your generation, with honour and with love.