ABOUT £14,000 will be spent on handing out free medals to all the borough’s schoolchildren to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Bosses at Southend Council also plan to splash £10,000 of taxpayers’ cash on two lighting beacons to celebrate the historic occasion.

On top of this, outgoing mayor David Norman, and his successor Sally Carr, have also launched a bid to raise £20,000 through donations to fund a new bust of the Queen’s head.

The bust will eventually be installed inside the new £27million library being built in Elmer Square, Southend.

Mr Norman said any donation, ranging from 20p to four-figure sums, towards the bust would be welcomed.

He said: “We feel we should be doing something special to mark the Queen’s remarkable achievement of 60 years on the throne. This bust will do that.”

The jubilee celebrations will be held on an extended weekend from June 2 to 5.

Southend, like many towns across the country, will play host to street parties, bandstand concerts and other events.

Mimicking a similar gift to schoolchildren on the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, the council will hand out commemorative sovereigns, costing £1 each, to 14,000 pupils attending Southend’s infant, primary, junior and special schools across the town this summer.

The two beacons – on Jubilee beach and Leigh beach – will also be lit, but details about their designs have not yet been released.

People will be able to donate to the bust appeal by visiting www.southend.gov.uk from next week, or getting in touch with staff at the Civic Centre.

Bosses hope to raise enough money to commission the bust by the end of this year.

It will initially be displayed in the Civic Centre and then it will be moved to the new library when it opens in August next year. However, if not enough cash is raised, councillors will vote on whether the authority should stump up the remaining sum.

Ms Carr, who will become the town’s new mayor tomorrow, said: “We know we are living in financially straightened times, but I think this is something the entire town can get behind.”