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Teri Stephenson - CEO at Age UK Lancashire

The 2022 Platinum Jubilee brought a much-needed opportunity for families, friends and communities to come together and celebrate the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.  To commemorate this unique milestone Age UK Lancashire successfully applied for funding from the Arts Council to gather the stories and experiences of our Day Club and wider community members who had met members of the Royal Family. 

We were delighted to work with Jacqueline Harris, a local storyteller, who visited our Day Clubs in Lancaster, Nelson and Ormskirk as well as Marsden Heights Community College, Brierfield to collect voice recordings of our older residents, pupils and members of the school’s enthusiastic Mum2Mum group. The recordings and images gathered during the conversations have now been brought together as a video which can be viewed on our website and this beautiful book.

As Chief Executive of Age UK Lancashire, I am delighted to share these wonderful reminiscences with you and hope you enjoy the stories as much as I did.  The contributors range hugely in age and experience and look out for “doggy” conversations with the Queen and memories of visits to Buckingham Palace. 

Talking Dogs with the Queen

The first time I met her she was invited to open a new unit which was part of the hospital. She’d start asking them questions, you know, and that absolutely amazed me. How does she remember everything? She remembered being at the hospital years previously, and even mentioned one of the patients that had been in at that time. I thought, gosh, she's got good memory or she's done her homework. You know, one of the two.

I landed the job, if you'd call it a job, of being there at the time. I just said if no one else is prepared to do it, I'll do it, and afterwards I thought, what was I being so nervous about? I think it was the queen I was frightened of! I didn't want to make a bloomer. The way she spoke with the patients. She wasn't afraid to ask anything.

We even talked about her corgis at one point, because we have dogs. I don’t know what made me say… oh, I know, it started to rain a bit. That was what it was. And I said to her, “Oh, the dog won't like going for a walk in. This!” You know, it just came out, and she said, “Oh, you have a dog?” I said, “Well, I know you've got a corgi”.  I said, “I’ve got a labrador”. So she said, “Oh, I love those dogs. They’re lovely dogs.”

We didn't talk about the patientS or the hospital, or anything else, for about quarter of an hour. It was all dogs. She was saying how they've always had dogs in the family, you know, and they've always had to make sacrifices for the sake of the dogs; and I'm saying, “Oh, you're very good”. She said, “Well”, you know, they do their part and we do our part”.

She would play in the field with a dog and a ball. I think it was just thinking time. I mean, she's human isn't she, at the end of the day?

And she used to laugh. Oh gosh, her laugh would make anybody laugh. She'd be laughing, and I'd be in stitches, laughing at her laughing.

I saw her once again when she was at Liverpool.I don't even know now what she was doing but she just nodded to me. That's all. That's all she did. I don't think anyone noticed. I noticed because I was glued to her.

She's a wonderful woman.

Carol Davidson

A Trip to Buckingham Palace to Meet Prince Philip

Prince Phillip,  I met him and I shook hands with him. I got the Duke of Edinburgh gold award, and when you got the gold award, you got to go to the palace. It was presented to you by the Duke himself.

I was in the police cadets. So I must have been sixteen or seventeen. We had to do camping up a mountain somewhere, and you had to do some kind of public service. My public service was, I said I would football referee boys clubs in Liverpool. That was dangerous. It really was, you know. You might as well said, “Give me a gun, I'll shoot myself!” The dads were all been on the touch line,  and if you got it wrong, they’d be “Don't be effing stupid,” you know?

I was excited, but not as excited as my mother, because we had to go to Buckingham Palace and we got to take  someone with us, and of course my mother chose herself to come with me. As soon as she found out I was going to Buckingham Palace, that was it, she was going!  She wore her best, and she told everyone in the street that we were going.

My mother was so proud. And you could tell all the mothers, they were all on the coach, were in the same position, you know?  It's amazing that the coach didn't float, because of all the big hearted mothers,  their hearts were going to burst you know?

I was… overwhelmed is the word.  I was overwhelmed, because who goes to Buckingham Palace? Inside?! I mean, I've been to Buckingham Palace outside to watch the changing of the Guard, but who goes inside?

The best part about it was that somehow or other, the coach driver had managed to get to drive into the front yard of Buckingham Palace. And when we got there, there were crowds of people outside, and we drove through the crowds and we waved to them!

The coach went inside and then we all had to get off and then there were these little like train things that we had to get on to, to be taken to the door. So we all got on the train and we waved to the crowd. We waved to the crowd and the crowd waved back and clapped! Then we went into the palace.

My mother was so overwhelmed by going into the palace. It was an impressive thing, there were footmen, soldiers and guardsmen everywhere.

We were there for a good couple of hours. They had a band. There was a balcony with a little band in it. They played. That really impressed my mother, you know, a band in a balcony. And then someone came round with sandwiches. It was a butler, but it was a posh butler. My mother nearly fainted! And then we all got to go and meet Duke, and my mother  cried. She really did.

Well, there we all were together. There were about seven of us who got the gold award.

Names were called individually. We went forward, and we met the Duke of Edinburgh. He was a nice person. He was a young man, and he was a very pleasant young man as well, I have to say.

We got our awards. I got the gold award. There was a bronze and a silver and a gold.

And then all the mums wanted to go for a drink in London, and we were all of age, so we could go. So it was eventually agreed that we'd all go together.

We walked from Buckingham palace, just up the road and found a few pubs. We went in one of the pubs. People were listening. Well, we thought that they knew that we'd been into the palace, or at least our mums did. Our mums believed that wherever we went in London, people would know that we'd been into the palace!

She loved every minute of it. And I did, because I'm a royalist, and to go into Buckingham Palace… it was an experience.

Bill Coady

Right Royal Reminiscence Booklet

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