Tomorrow marks the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee - a celebration of six decades which have brought our monarch into contact with millions of her subjects across the globe.
Today, in the first of a two-part feature, The Star’s Deputy News Editor Sarah Crabtree spoke to five people in and around South Yorkshire who will always remember with pride the day they met the Queen.
Schoolgirl Shelby Rotherham, 11, from Eckington, was nine when she was snapped by the paparazzi in 2010 as she picked up an order of service dropped by the Queen at a Derby Cathedral Maundy Thursday service.
“It was really exciting the day I met the Queen.
“My school, Camms, was chosen from all the Derbyshire primaries to go to the service, and my headteacher picked me to attend. I had to go to rehearsals, and one was on Songs of Praise.
“Afterwards, on the day, everybody was taking pictures outside, and it was really nice because I was standing right next to the Queen. It was really exciting.
“Then the Queen accidentally dropped her booklet on the ground. She asked if I would pick it up, so I did and gave it back to her.
“I didn’t think anything else about it because we all went back inside. The Queen asked us our favourite hobbies. I like dancing and singing, so I said that.
“I never thought anyone took a photo of me picking up the booklet, so it was a surprise the next day when my picture was in all the newspapers. But we kept the cuttings and my mum and dad made a book for me. I think the Royal family are nice, and I think the Queen is really nice to other people. I will remember it for the rest of my life.”
Garden party was amazing experience
Grandparents-of-four Maureen and Richard Foster, both 70, from Nether Edge, attended a Buckingham Palace garden party in 2007.
Retired butcher Richard, and retired school bursar Maureen, have spent 40 years involved with the Manor Operatic Society.
“One day in January 2007 a letter arrived saying we had been put forward to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace.
“But we weren’t to tell anyone at first, in case we weren’t chosen!
“We still don’t know who nominated us. Richard is chairman of Manor Operatic, and I used to do the wardrobe, so we can only think it’s because of that.
“The party was on July 19. Richard hired morning dress and a friend sent a limousine to pick us up.
“In the garden there were two big gazebos on the lawn, with a military band in each. They took turns to play, and hoisted a little flag when it was the other band’s go.
“The food was served in a huge marquee stretching about the length of Tudor Square. There were tiny sandwiches, shortbread, canapes, biscuits with things stacked up. You had an oblong plate with a place for your cup. Butlers walked about with ice creams in trays.
“When the Royals came out we lined up in four aisles. You didn’t know which Royal person would walk down your aisle, but it so happened we got the Queen.
“She stood right next to us as she chatted to a lady beside us, and she was very small, but lovely.
“It was a gorgeous afternoon, just amazing.
“We feel honoured to have been there.”
A special power to boost morale
Retired Forgemasters engineering manager Michael Waldron, 63, met the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2008 after the firm won The Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Dad-of-three Michael, from Ecclesfield, said the occasion was ‘extremely special’.
“Meeting the Queen was unbelievable. It’s just not the sort of thing that happens to someone brought up on Southey Green and Fox Hill.
“The chance to go to the Palace was offered at work. I retired last month but I worked at Forgemasters for 47 years, so I was suggested and so was one of the sales managers. “It was quite something going through the Palace gates, standing on the other side, while the tourists peered through and wondered who we were!
“Inside we were served champagne and canapes. I wanted to remember it all with a clear head, so I had orange juice.
“What really surprised me was the number of people drinking their champagne and putting their empty glasses on the mantelpiece! I was sure you’re not meant to do that.
“When it came to be our turn to speak to the Queen we said we were from the steel industry in Sheffield. She asked, ‘How is the steel industry now?’
“I told her we were just recovering from the 2007 floods, when the water in the machine shop was 5ft deep. I said, ‘The water would be over your head, Ma’am’. She said, ‘Oh my goodness’.
“To meet the Queen, in her own rooms, was extremely special.
“The Royals have a special power to boost morale and give the sense everything is right.
“I will never forget the day I met her.”
Talking 007 a licence to thrill for physio Alan
Physiotherapist Alan Smith kept the England football squad in tip-top condition during the 1998 and 2002 World Cups - and treated David Beckham’s famous metatarsal for the tournament in Japan.
The 63-year-old from Wickersley was invited to Buckingham Palace in 2002 as a thank-you - and found himself chatting to the Queen on a rather unexpected topic.
“I was the England physio for two World Cups - in France in ’98, and in Japan in 2002. After both occasions the squad was invited to Buckingham Palace, and in 2002 I had a conversation with the Queen.
“On the train to London in the morning I read in the paper that, the night before, the Queen had attended the Royal Albert Hall to see James Bond film Die Another Day.
“So, when I got to the Palace, I asked her, ‘Did you enjoy the film last night, Ma’am?’ She told me all about it! She said how expensive it had been to make, and that she didn’t think the Albert Hall was the right setting to screen it.
“She also said she thought the plot was very far-fetched. I told her all Bond films are like that, and she said, ‘Are they? It’s the first one I’ve seen’. I was very surprised at that.
“She was wonderful, very warm. And she makes such an impression you remember your conversation word-for-word. It’s something that has a big impact.
“I have always been a fan - I think she’s marvellous. Meeting her confirmed exactly what I already thought.”
Windsor salute a huge honour
Grandfather-of-two Derrick Greaves, 77, a retired salesman from Grenoside, was 16 the first time he saw the Queen at a Windsor Castle scouting parade. Two years later he met the monarch again, when she visited his steelworks.
“In 1952 I was a 16-year-old boy scout who had passed what was, at the time, my King’s Scout badge.
“It’s the top badge, only around 10 per cent of scouts achieve it, and all the ones who do are invited to Windsor Castle to take the King’s salute.
“But by the time it came round, though, the King had died - so it was the Queen’s salute we went to Windsor for, and it was the first time the young Queen had taken the salute.
“We camped in Windsor Great Park, and afterwards we went to London to see the Gang Show at the Palladium. We were only young, it was very soon after the war, and for most of us it was the first time we had been to London.
“Two years later I was 18 and an apprentice at the English Steel Corporation’s River Don Works. The Queen came to visit, and I was working on a lathe when she toured the machine shop and spoke to people.
“It was hard to hear over the sound of the big machinery, and I was only a young apprentice so naturally she didn’t speak to me. But I could see her clearly.
“I was astonished to notice one of her bodyguards’ shoulder holster with a gun - quite something back then.”