Former Ipswich Evening Star Editor, Nigel Pickover, met The Queen on three occasions and tells of the sparkle in her eyes and the joy she brought in her wake.

The Queen enriched the lives of millions across the world - and so many at home and abroad have their own, joyous, personal, experiences of contact with her.

In my role as a newspaper editor in East Anglia, I met Her Majesty on three occasions, in Suffolk, Norfolk, and London, and each occasion gave me spine-tingling moments to treasure forever.

At every meeting, there was great anticipation of the handshake to come - and reminders of how to say Ma’am (it’s pronounced MAM) but no sense of trepidation or nerves.

Ipswich Star: Former Evening Star editor Nigel PickoverFormer Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover (Image: Archant)

I suppose that’s because The Queen has always been like a second mum to me, someone you imagined you could turn to for love, comfort and advice.

She was wonderful when she visited the Press Association’s headquarters in London where I corralled a group of editors due to meet her in one corner of the Vauxhall building.

As the Internet Age was getting into full swing, I asked her: ”Have you surfed the web, Ma’am?”

Quick as a flash, her bright eyes shone, as she replied: ”No, but I believe Prince Charles has!”

She arrived in Suffolk on her Golden Jubilee Tour in 2002 and was fascinated to visit locations in the booming Ipswich Waterfront area.

I met The Queen in a marquee on the day The Star, was celebrating the installation of a new colour printing press, in nearby Lower Brook Street.

She was fascinated with the development and, remotely, started that day’s printing operation. Naturally, she was front-page news!

In King’s Lynn, I met The Queen when she visited the hospital bearing her name, the one closest to her beloved Christmas home at Sandringham.

She revealed a passion for my then title, the Eastern Daily Press, which was always on her breakfast table. How proud was I, as were EDP editors before and since.

Always kind, always warm, always interested, she lifted my day on each occasion, as she did for all those lucky ones who met her.

When we produced a diamond jubilee souvenir special, she wrote a beautifully-crafted note of thanks. I treasure it still.

That - and her recent hilarious video sketch with Paddington - underscores the “common touch” she had amongst all her other personal gifts.

Alongside countless millions, we mourn deeply.

But we also celebrate the life of a monarch who left you with the feeling that she was right alongside as an extra sister, mother, friend, or as an extra shoulder for life’s troublesome moments.

I’m sure her spirit and guiding light will shine on in us forever.