Betty helps to fly the flag for national pride

Betty Brown with her great grandchildren Travis and Sophie Brown, and the Rev John Beckwith.
Betty Brown with her great grandchildren Travis and Sophie Brown, and the Rev John Beckwith.

The Union Jack is now flying proudly at Belford First School thanks to a donation from local resident Betty Brown.

The 87-year-old had already donated a flagpole to neighbouring St Mary’s Middle School as part of the village’s VE Day commemorations in May.

“I’m the biggest royalist you have ever known and I felt it was only right that all the schools in the village should have a flagpole so they can fly the Union Jack,” she said.

“I donated one to the middle school earlier in the year for VE Day and, on reflection, thought the first school should have one too.”

Betty approached head teacher Janet Robinson, who gladly accepted the offer and a dedication ceremony was held at the school on Armistice Day.

The vicar of Belford, Rev John Beckwith, said a few words and pupils remembered all those from the village who fought and died in the two world wars.

“It was really lovely to get a phone call the next morning from the head teacher to say how much of a pleasure it was to see the flag flying,” said Betty.

“It’s especially nice for anyone driving into the village from the east because it’s right next to the school wall.

“On top of that, there’s a little girl at the school whose dad is away in the army and her mum told me she was going to send him a picture of the flagpole and the Union Jack.”

She said she would love to see the National Anthem part of the national curriculum again as it was in her school days.

“I was flabbergasted that the children didn’t know it,” she said.

Betty has four flagpoles outside her home.

“One is for the Union Jack, another is the Scottish Saltire for my husband – even though he’s been dead for more than 20 years – and one is for Newcastle United. And next to my front gate I’ve got the Northumberland flag,” she said.

“Some people say I’m eccentric, some people say I’m enthusiastic, but I like to say that I’m a vexillologist.”

That’s a person who loves flags.