Monday 9 October 2000 it rained, and rained, and rained and rained!!

It couldn't have been a worse day for celebrating what would have been John's 60th birthday, but we don't let things like rain get in the way of celebrating something special and hundreds of people turned out to brave the rain and honour John.  People had come from all over the world to be in Liverpool for this wonderful celebration of John's life - a truly special life.

At 9.30 a.m. I met Jackie Spencer from LiveApool Tours at St. John's Gardens in Liverpool where we had been invited by Liverpool City Council to take part a civic ceremony to celebrate the life of John Lennon which would include the planting of an English Oak tree in his memory.

When I arrived, yes it was still raining, the Saturday Club Brass Band were just setting up their instruments.  The children of Dovedale Primary School had arrived and they were practicing their singing.  Dressed in white mackintoshes they all looked like ET!  After a while they were taken inside St. George's Hall for a hot drink and to get warmed up again before the ceremony began.  Invited VIPs began to arrive and those attending were Quarry Men Colin Hanton and his lovely wife Joan, and Len Garry, Alistair Taylor, Spencer Leigh amongst others, and Julia Baird who had been invited to take part in the planting of the tree.  Julia was overjoyed to be asked to perform this duty and said it was one of the most lovely of events that had happened that weekend because it celebrated John's life and not his death.  She was delighted to see the children of Dovedale Primary School also had been invited.

Once everyone was gathered Mike Storey from the City Council gave a short speech in which he spoke of John's early life in the city and the legacy he had left us all.  Keith Davis, Head of Tourism, was next on the podium, he said a few words about the event and then he then introduced Julia Baird who chatted for a few moments about how appropriate it was that the tree was being planted in St. John's Gardens because it was a place that her mother used to take her, her sister Jackie and John when they were small children. They would visit the Art Gallery just across the street and then would have their lunch in St. John's Gardens.  Julia then read the words of one of John's most famous and loved songs - In My Life.  This was a very emotional moment and it was obvious that Julia was affected by this but she soldiered on.  

The planting of the tree was next.  Julia stepped forward with the Lord Mayor and two of the children from Dovedale School, each taking a shovel they began to plant the tree.  As this was going on the Saturday Club Brass Band played a wonderful rendition of  "Imagine" - very appropriate I thought.  

Next the children sang "Happy Birthday" to John and released 60 white balloons which were carried away by the wind and rain - yes it was still raining!   This was a lovely sight.  As the balloons carried away the band played "All You Need is Love" and the children and the crowd all sang along.

Julia & the Lord Mayor during the planting

Once the ceremony had finished the children were quickly whisked away back inside the Hall where they were treated to juice and birthday cake.  

The cake was a large square cake with a picture of John on the top, John in his New York style. The cake was cut by one of the children and Julia Baird.

Special thanks to Julia for coming to the ceremony and for chatting to later and answering the never-ending questions about John.

Left:  Julia standing with the cake.

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