News Release

The Diamond Jubilee – A Trip Down Memory Lane

As we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Sister Dorothy Kendall of the Alloa ward in the Edinburgh Scotland Stake can recall the magic, the excitement and the splendour of the occasion that marked the moment of Her Majesty’s coronation.

What was I doing on that date? I remember it well… At the time I was WPC Hoyle of the Rochdale Borough Police and I travelled to London with the Rochdale Contingent – 12 Constables, 1 Sargent, 1 Detective Constable and 1 Inspector. Each Police force had sent a similar group and we Women Police numbered about 80 and our main task was to look after 34000 school children on the embankment area specially set apart for them.

From 5am that morning I was on duty on the embankment near to Northumberland Avenue. The children started to arrive soon after 6am and all made their way very excitedly but in an orderly fashion led by teachers and helpers to the places marked out on the pavement for each school.

There was music playing over the loudspeakers from early morning and the whole atmosphere was wonderful and I counted myself very lucky to be there taking a small part in the gigantic organisation on such an important day. Some of the children were still tired from such an early rise and tried to take little naps sitting on their haversacks but every so often they would be awakened by shouts from the others as some vehicle or person came along the road. At this time it would only be a street sweeper making sure the route was perfectly clean but each one got a rousing cheer and some of them waved back in the true Royal style.

Later in the morning, vans arrived bringing 34000 cartons of juice (with straws) which were handed out to each child as they had brought a packed lunch in their haversacks. This all caused great excitement until the feast was over and then all the cartons, straws and lunch papers were collected in huge boxes. Later on, another surprise turned up in the shape of 34000 ice-lollies which were distributed, eaten and the papers and lolly sticks collected. It should be mentioned that when the children left the embankment there was no litter to be seen. If only this could have been said for the rest of the London streets most of which were ankle deep in rubbish.

I can still hear the cheering which accompanied each car or carriage which came along and the children waved their banners till their arms must have ached. The Queen of Tonga and Sir Winston Churchill were two popular figures as they received great applause and must have felt very pleased and when the royal Carriage finally came along the noise was deafening and the little banners were waved even more frantically.

It was a wonderful sight and even though the rain had persisted for most of the morning our spirits were not dampened and I would have liked to have waved and shouted with the rest but stood to attention as each carriage went past, as was expected of me!

Once the whole magnificent procession had ended and the children had left the embankment, the Policewomen returned to New Scotland Yard for further instructions. There was no time for meals at this stage but we had been given emergency rations of chocolate bars and never did chocolate taste better.

We were later directed to an area near to Westminster Abbey to assist in crowd control but we were only subjected to good-natured jostling and there was no violence or trouble whatsoever. The ceremony was relayed by loudspeakers and we were able to hear this and enjoy the magic of the occasion along with the crowds. I didn’t see Her Majesty leaving the Abbey from where I was on duty but could hear the cheering from the crowd. Later on that evening we saw the whole event on T.V. as we were all too tired to join the crowds who were celebrating well into the night. No doubt many other Police Officers were on duty throughout those hectic hours but our duties were over for that memorable day.

We Policewomen were accommodated in the Police section houses but our male colleagues were not so lucky and spent their night under canvas in Hyde Park I believe. We all met up the following day and travelled back to our respective Forces feeling quite honoured at having been present in London  for such a special occasion and I’m sure the memory of it will come flooding back to all who took part on the day our Queen was crowned; a day I shall never forget. Long live the Queen!

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