[Beds and Herts Saturday Telegraph: August 23rd, 1919]
The appeal issued to the Luton public for donations to the funding providing an adequate peace celebration for the children of the borough is the first stage in regard to a decision which will be cordially welcomed by the whole community.
It has been repeatedly contended that the younger generation has an unquestioned claim to figure prominently in the rejoicings which are to mark in perpetuity the close of the greatest war in history, and after some amount of uncertainty it now appears that the children are to come into their own.
At a meeting of the Peace Celebration Committee a short time before July 19th, the need for proper steps in this direction were argued by several members, and it was finally decided that arrangements should be made to cater for the juveniles on a day or days subsequent to that fixed for the official festival.
The opinion of the Committee, so far as it was expressed, favoured a special day, possibly at Luton Hoo, when the programme was to include a tea, sports, entertainments, and the presentation of souvenir medals generously provided by Messrs Vyse, Sons & Co Ltd, through the initiative of Alderman J. H. Staddon, who is one of the directors.
Several members stated that they were prepared to contribute substantial amounts to any fund raised to carry the scheme through, and it was generally felt that the public could fully be relied upon to support in generous measure a clear lead from the Committee.
It was pointed out by Mr Percy Carter, however, that any celebration decided upon must, in order to ensure success, be framed on lines which would appeal to the children. The point was put that the festival must be “as the children desired – not as the Committee might think they ought to desire”.
In order to secure that this end should be reached, it was agreed that the co-operation and advice of the teachers was a sine quo non, and the formulation of a definite scheme was accordingly deferred until joint counsel could be taken.
At a later meeting of the Committee, it was agreed that a public appeal should be issued, and it was understood that this would be launched by the Mayor at a Council meeting which was to follow.
It is ancient history now that eventualities were of a type that put of action any possibility of any such announcement or appeal being made by the present occupant of the civic chair.
Circumstances have prevented further developments until quite recently, but we understand that a meeting of the Peace Celebration Committee was held this week at which the members resolved that the special day or days should be organised for the benefit and pleasure of the children as originally intended, it being the unanimous opinion that the residents would welcome the opportunity of contributing to the enjoyment of the schoolchildren under such circumstances.
At the unanimous request of his colleagues, the Deputy Mayor (Council C. Dillingham) undertook to organise the appeal for funds, and he has commenced the task with characteristic energy and enthusiasm.
In the course of a short conversation with the Deputy Mayor yesterday morning, a Telegraph representative gathered that the Committee propose to adhere to the general outline previously formulated, but it is a matter for subsequent decision whether the function will be held in the open air or in the schools. That, obviously, is an aspect of the question in which the character of the weather will be an all-important factor.
Mr Dillingham gave us the impression that Wardown appeals to him as, in the special circumstances, almost the ideal spot for the purpose should the atmospheric conditions be propitious. As he aptly pointed out, the Park is easily accessible from all parts of the town, and, what is even more important, a place from which the tired kiddies can the more easily be got to their homes at the close of the day's rejoicings. The accessibility of the trams is another point to be considered in this respect.
If Luton Hoo proves to be the rendezvous for the festival, it is highly probably that satisfactory arrangements will be made for the conveyance of the juvenile guests to and from the ground.
In order to prosecute the appeal with vigour, it was decided to form a strong general committee, composed of six members from the Peace Celebration Committee and six nominated by the teaching profession. The first-named gentlemen are the Deputy Mayor, Aldermen J. H. Staddon and H. Arnold, Councillors M. Barford, G. Warren and C. W. Escott.
The appeal has already been issued in the form of an advertisement (shown above) in the Luton News on Thursday, and we understand that the Deputy Mayor is seeing that an effort is also made in local factories. Our representative found the Deputy Mayor in an optimistic frame of mine, his customary cheerful outlook having possibly been strengthened by the fact that, even at that early stage, promises had been received which demonstrated that the public support will be commensurate with the sum of the Committee's objectives.
“We want everybody to help us,” said Mr Dillingham, “in order that the kiddies shall have a real good time. There is room for all. We have asked for £1,000, and if this amount in forthcoming we can do the thing on a proper scale. Personally, I have no fear as to the money being raised, and in the event of the cost being beyond that sum, I am quite prepared to pay the balance myself.
“As soon as details are sufficiently advanced, I intend to make a call on many of the leading residents and tradesmen, and I have no fear that their full support will not be available.
“The teachers will probably meet almost immediately the schools re-assemble after the holidays. No definite arrangements will be made until they have nominated their representatives to work with us and we have consulted together.
“I think my colleagues and myself know what the children would like. Those who are not natives of Luton have for so long been associated with the life of the town as to be well aware what the situation demands. We intend to give the kiddies a festival which will be to them a very pleasant memory. Their fathers made peace celebrations possible, and the youngsters are entitled to their share. We propose, with the help and co-operation of the public, to see that they get it, and we hope, therefore, that the appeal we are making for funds will be readily and generously supported by our fellow townspeople.”
The following Thursday the Luton News reported that subscriptions already received, together with money promised, totalled £700. By September 10th the figure had topped the £1,000 target at £1,146 15s 6d, made up of individual donations ranging from two shillings to 50 guineas.
The Peace Celebration Committee report was presented to the Town Council on September 2nd by Mayor Henry Impey, who pointed out that he had attended the meeting and had presided.