The Queen: Diamond days ahead

PUBLISHED: 00:16 28 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:58 20 February 2013

The Queen: Diamond days ahead

The Queen: Diamond days ahead

Sixty one years ago exactly on February 6, in a remote part of Kenya, the young Princess Elizabeth received the news of her father's death. The tour was abandoned, and Elizabeth flew back to Britain as its Queen ...

Sixty one years ago exactly on February 6, in a remote part of Kenya, the young Princess Elizabeth received the news of her fathers death. The tour was abandoned, and Elizabeth flew back to Britain as its Queen.

A year later, on June 2nd 1953, the Queen was crowned at Westminster Abbey. Among those who slept on Londons cold pavements the night before to secure a good spot to view her arrival was student Richard Sawtell. Fresh from his finals at Cambridge University, Richard joined the tens of thousands who stood in heavy rain to cheer their good wishes at the new Queen.

It was a pleasure and privilege to be there and to be part of history, said Richard. The ceremony was also broadcast on radio around the world and, at The Queens request, on television for the first time. Television brought home to hundreds of thousands of people around the Commonwealth the splendour and significance of the Coronation in a way never before possible. The Coronation was followed by drives through every part of London, a review of the fleet at Spithead, and visits to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Wind forward 60 years, and student Richard is now deputy lord lieutenant for Shropshire, and intimately involved in organising part of the countys celebrations for the Queens Diamond Jubilee.

I am a convinced Royalist and have huge admiration for the Queens achievements. It is a huge honour and Im delighted to be fit enough to play a small part in the celebrations.

Richard, a former County Secretary for Shropshire County Council, has been one of the driving forces behind the Lyneal Trust, a registered charity that provides holidays and canal boat trips for people with disabilities with their families, friends or in groups from its base at Lyneal Wharf, near Ellesmere.

Founded 26 years ago, the charity has since supported more than 10,000 disabled people and their carers, and has received the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

The Trust was one of more than 3,500 applicants seeking a berth in the 1,000 strong Jubilee flotilla, which will be one of the highlights of the national celebrations. The Trust was delighted to learn its bid was successful, subject to final confirmation.

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant will take place at high water in the afternoon of Sunday 3 June, when a thousand boats will muster on the River Thames in preparation for Her Majesty The Queen to lead them. It will be one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river, with rowed boats, working boats, services boats, wooden launches, steam vessels and pleasure boats of all shapes and sizes beautifully dressed with streamers and Union Jacks.

The flotilla will be bolstered with passenger boats carrying up to 30,000 members of the public.

The Pageant will be an absolute triumph, Im sure, and it will be wonderful to see one of the Trusts canalboats among them.

The Trust operates two canal boats, the 70 ft Shropshire Lass and the smaller Shropshire Lad, and both are expected to make the three-week journey by canal and river,

On board Shropshire Lass will be families and organisations who have benefited from the Trusts facilities previously, while Army personnel and recovering soldiers will accompany Shropshire Lad on its journey south.

The Trust owns and maintains the two canal boats and also four holiday cottages which are specially designed and built for people with disabilities. They are all available for hire at competitive rates.

Elsewhere in the county, excitement is mounting in anticipation of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, with a huge amount of work under way across the county to ensure as many people as possible get the chance to show their pride and support.

The main event is still being kept under wraps while final details are confirmed, but hopes are high that the Queens tour of the West Midlands region on July 11th and 12th will include a visit to Shropshire.

It is a most exciting time. I am getting a real sense that people are enthusiastic about marking this very special event, and this will only mount once details of events are finalised, said Martin Stevens, clerk to the Lord Lieutenant Algernon Heber-Percy. The Lord Lieutenant chairs a county jubilee committee.

The first confirmed event to mark the Jubilee is a special sevice at Hereford Cathedral, organised by the Hereford Disocese which includes parts of Shropshire, to commemorate the eve of the day young Princess Elizabeth became Queen. The service is on February 5, at 3.30pm, and Shropshire dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant will be present. The following day, February 6, a service marking the accession will be held at Shrewsburys St Alkmunds Church.

A county church service will be held at Shrewsbury Abbey on April 22nd - a grand civic occasion, which members of the public will also be invited to attend; and a further county service is being held at St Georges Church in Telford.

Communities are being encouraged to host garden parties and street parties, with council rules on road closures relaxed and fees scrapped during the celebrations to make the organisation process as simple as possible, said Mr Stevens, who is coordinating activity across the county.

During the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend (June 2-5) a range of activities are taking place at attractions around the county. Blists Hill Museum is hosting a Diamond Jubilee weekend with a range of celebrations; while the RAF Cosford Air Museum has a programme of activities for visitors.

Parish and town councils are considering taking up the challenge of becoming part of the Jubilee Beacons project on June 4th - Newport Town Council is among the first to register its intention to mount a beacon on top of St Nicholas Church tower.

A spokesman for Telford & Wrekin Council said: Our role is to organisations including parish and town councils, schools and community groups who wish to celebrate, by providing event organisers with information and access.

The Arena in Telford Town Park has been dedicated as a Queen Elizabeth II Fields in Trust location, in recognition of the Jubilee and Olympic Year.

Ludlow Town Council is organising a full programme of events to mark the jubilee.

The Queen last visited Shropshire in 2003, when her tour took her to Ironbridge Gorge and to Craven Arms.

The first major national event is the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, taking place at Windsor Castle in the presence of Her Majesty. The event takes place in the private grounds of Windsor Castle on the evenings of 10th, 11th and 13th May. Dancers, musicians, military and equestrian displays from around the world will come together for three nights in a performance to pay tribute to 60 spectacular years.

For more information about the Lyneal Trust visit the website at

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