4,000 guests at Queen's Diamond Jubilee garden partyBy Paul Cassell
June 28, 2012
People from across Reading were among 4,000 folk from three counties who joined the Queen as she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee at a garden party on Monday.
The Royal occasion, hosted by the Lord Lieutenants of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, was held at The University of Reading’s Henley Business School in the Oxfordshire town.
The beautiful grounds of the Greenlands campus on the banks of the River Thames provided a stunning backdrop.
The Queen, wearing a sky blue dress and hat, was accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh.
The event, part of a UK-wide jubilee tour, also helped raise cash for a Jubilee Fund run by the four Thames Valley Community Foundation charities. Among the guests were Sir John Madejski, Starmaker chairman David Savage, Reading Post editor Andy Murrill and 38 people from each borough of Berkshire, drawn from a ballot.
Sir John, who was presented to the Queen and the Duke, said: “It doesn’t get much bigger than that. What a thrill in her jubilee year.
“I have met her on two or three occasions, and honestly she looked absolutely radiant.”
Sir John, who is chancellor of the university, was delighted the venue was chosen for the celebrations which he described as “a triumph”.
He added: “The Royal family do so much good for this country in terms of putting the UK on top, and the greatest of those is the Queen herself and we would be much poorer without her.
“She has done a magnificent job in her 60 years on the throne and the depth of knowledge she has is quite remarkable and something to be really proud of.”
Mr Savage was also introduced to Her Majesty having met her previously when Starmaker was awarded The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service at St James’s Palace in 2004.
He said: “Only a few weeks ago the world was watching her and on Monday there we were shaking hands.
“To meet her once in a lifetime you are very lucky, but to have met her twice makes me very proud, especially for Starmaker.”
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh arrived from Hambledon lock on the steam launch Alaska and were escorted by the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire The Honourable Mary Bayliss.
They were greeted at Greenlands by the Lord Lieutenants for Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire to a guard of honour and fanfare before being introduced to other dignitaries.
A river pageant followed to capture the spirit and role of the River Thames in the region for more than 1,000 years, featuring more than 30 boats, skiffs, tugs and steamers to Dunkirk little ships. Her Majesty visited displays and was presented to guests from across all three counties representing business, public and voluntary sectors as well as staff from the university.
There was an RAF helicopter flypast before the Queen cut a celebratory cake and unveiled a plaque at Greenlands to commemorate the occasion before she was presented with a posy from schoolchildren, followed by the playing of the national anthem.
Mrs Bayliss said: “The whole day went brilliantly well. The sun shone and the Queen looked happy and the Duke did too.
“So many people came up to and said how much they had enjoyed it and that they were thrilled to be there and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.
“Our thanks to the Queen for 60 wonderful years, and I hope we made a substantial amount for the community foundations across the three counties.”
Newlyweds special day
A couple who were devastated after their wedding venue burned down said meeting the Queen has made their year.
Alison and Trevor Bennett, from Broad Hinton, Twyford, were due to get married at the Ryde Castle Hotel on the Isle of Wight on May 6 when disaster struck seven weeks before.
The pair rearranged their marriage, which was held at Landguard Manor, also on the island, for the same day.
IT engineer Mr Bennett, 32, wrote to Buckingham Place after the newlyweds were among those chosen in a prize draw to attend the garden party and was told the Queen would like to meet them.
He said: “My heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to burst out of my chest, but she was such a warm woman and she has this way that puts you at ease.”
Schoolteacher Mrs Bennett, 31, added: “She congratulated us on our wedding and we congratulated her on her Diamond Jubilee.”