Ipswich soldier on parade for funeral

THE crowds may now have slipped away and the sounds of the bagpipes left the air, but the death of the Queen Mother will always remain in the memory of one Ipswich 20-year-old.

THE crowds may now have slipped away and the sounds of the bagpipes left the air, but the death of the Queen Mother will always remain in the memory of one Ipswich 20-year-old.

Because just six weeks after she finished her basic training with the Royal Navy, Sarah Atkinson had the honour of marching in the procession as the coffin made its way to Westminster Hall where the Queen Mother was to lay in state.

Just yards behind members of the grieving royal family, Sarah, of Oak Eggar Chase, Ipswich took part in April 5's historic 28 minute procession through the streets of London.

It was a nerve wracking experience for Sarah who was one of just 350 people from the Navy picked to join the procession.


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She had only just started a period of two week leave on the weekend the Queen Mother died and was called at 11.30pm on the Saturday and told to pack her bags and get back to HMS Collingwood in Portsmouth where she was based.

As she was in the Guard Class at the time it was their duty to be on hand to be involved in the proceedings as the nation mourned and paid their respects to a greatly respected member of the royal family.

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But the honour took a lot of hard work. Sarah said the week preceeding the procession was made up with day after day of learning how to march.

She said: "On the first day we were taught how to slow march and we were there for about 12 hours.

"The next day we were rehearsing from about 8am until 6pm – they were long days.

"The rifles we have weigh 9 and a half pounds and we had to slow march holding the rifle with one hand."

Although it did not quite sink in at rehearsal the importance of what they were taking part in, Sarah said by the time the big day came the nerves were beginning to jangle.

She said: "It was quite nerve wracking as no one wanted to get anything wrong.

"None of my friends would believe I was doing it. I will be able to tell my grandchildren that I marched in the Queen Mother's

procession."

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