Wednesday, 18 June 2008

New Article in Western Daily Press

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08:00 - 18 June 2008

It may be the last county in the West to champion its own flag, but campaigners for the Dorset Cross are certainly making up for lost time in ensuring their gold flag is flown in every town and village in the county.

They have already sold out of the first 220 flags and are now awaiting a delivery of another 1,000.The Dorset Cross has already been flown from churches and pubs across the county and was even taken to Wembley by the Wimborne Town Youth Football team when they watched an England game at the new stadium.

Campaigner Dave White, from Dorchester, said: "Dorset has got it all, lovely countryside, the sea and coast. It's like England in one little county. People, rightly so, are very proud of Dorset.

"Since devolution, the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish are getting more proud of where they come from. In Devon and Cornwall, everywhere you go, you see the flags.

"It's good on the unity front to hold on to something which says 'we are from here'. People get quite excited about that."

The flag's design draws upon the county's history. The colours used are found in the Dorset County Council and Dorset Fire and Rescue Service Arms. The gold also relates to the Jurassic Coast beauty spot, Golden Cap, and the famous Shaftesbury street, Gold Hill.

Jason Saber, of the national Flag Institute has commended the flag as simple yet symbolic and distinctive.

Designer Stephen Coombs was keen to make it stand out from the flags of neighbouring counties, many of which feature the colour green.

Last summer, Wiltshire launched its own green and white striped flag featuring a great bustard and earlier this year Gloucestershire joined in with another green, blue and white flag - just slightly different to the Devon flag adopted in 2003.

Somerset's flag, which features a red dragon, can be seen flying across the county and Cornwall's striking black and white cross has become a symbol for those wanting independence.

But supporters say the Dorset Cross is more about unity and identity, rather than the desire for independence.

The new flag has even got a special launch party in the shape of Endorse-it In-Dorset festival, which celebrates all that is great about the county.

The festival, which takes place in Sixpenny Handley, near Shaftesbury, hosts its own Dorset Cultural Highlight of the Year award, for which the new flag is a front runner. Festival flyers feature cartoons of the band erecting the flag in the style of Rosenthal's famous World War II image. Organisers and local musicians Pronghorn, who were also key sponsors of the campaign, will champion the flag at the three-day festival in August.

The bid has attracted attention from far and wide, from Sherborne in the north of the county to Bridport in the south and even from the former Hampshire town of Bournemouth.

A Facebook group called "Support the Dorset Flag" has attracted more than 100 members.

It was a hot topic of conversation among visitors to last weekend's Wimborne Folk Festival.

Wimborne Town Crier Chris Brown said: "There's lots about Dorset we want to celebrate. We've got the Olympics coming here in 2012 and it was here that the trade union movement was born. The flag is needed to show the world what Dorset means to people who live here. Our flag stands out from all the others and will put Dorset on the map."

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