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SUNDAY 19  MAY 2024

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I had a day out at the Queen’s Coronation but, to be honest, I was more excited by Stanley Matthews

By ROBIN McGIBBON

The immense interest in the Coronation has made me wonder if, at the not so sprightly age of 83, I am the only reader of his Lordship’s esteemed organ to have witnessed the only other Royal crowning in our lifetimes.

 

No, no I was not one of the Great and the Good invited to Queen Elizabeth’s historic day on Saturday, 2 June, 1953. But I was one of 50 boys of Colfe’s Grammar School, in Lewisham, selected to watch the Royal procession proceed its slow, stately way along Victoria Embankment to Westminster Abbey.

 

Just why I was picked is anyone’s guess. Certainly it wasn’t a reward for my cleverness in the classroom. At 13, I was noted for my skill behind the stumps, not a desk. Maybe it was an act of sympathy. I’d been off school for more than a month (can’t recall why) and, perhaps, my form master thought such a privilege would cheer me up.

 

The first I knew of my selection was one Friday evening – a couple of weeks before the Big Day – when a classmate called at my home, in Brockley, to tell me and my family.

 

Seventy years on, I can’t remember much about that moment, Even at 13, I probably should have euphoric – even proud – that out of 600-plus pupils I was one of the Chosen Few. But, if I’m honest, I was still excited at seeing Stanley Matthews finally pick up an FA Cup winner’s medal. And, of course, there was the upcoming Final Test at The Oval when England would be battling to regain the Ashes from Australia for the first time in 20 years.

 

Sadly, I had next to no memory of the glorious pageantry that unfolded last Coronation Day. Which is why I’m hugely indebted to Kathryn McNeill, at Colfe’s, for sending me a very descriptive article, written for the school magazine, which brought back warm memories of simpler, and more considerate times.


FROM THE COLFEIAN SCHOOL MAGAZINE