Lily is 'queen for a day' with carriage ride for 90th birthday

Lily Risley was all smiles as she waved to passers-by during her carriage ride in Sudbury and Long Melford

Lily Risley was all smiles as she waved to passers-by during her carriage ride in Sudbury and Long Melford - Credit: Paulette Coe/Layer Marney Horse Drawn Carriages

A Sudbury great-grandmother was "queen for a day" as she celebrated her 90th birthday in style - with a horse-drawn carriage ride.

It was a dream come true for Lily Risley, who was thrilled by the special surprise celebration, arranged by her son Kevin and his wife Rose.

"Birthday girl" Lily Risley of Sudbury on her carriage ride 

"Birthday girl" Lily Risley of Sudbury on her carriage ride - Credit: Sheryl Risley

The carriage picked Lily up at her home in Sudbury and took her through the town and on to The Bull Hotel at Long Melford, for a birthday lunch with her extended family.   

All through the ride, she kept saying: "I am overwhelmed - I don't know what to say. I'm lost for words."

Lily Risley of Sudbury rode with her Kevin and granddaughter, Sheryl, on her 90th-birthday carriage ride 

Lily Risley of Sudbury rode with her Kevin and granddaughter, Sheryl, on her 90th-birthday carriage ride - Credit: Stephen Preston

Kevin said: "I don't think mum stopped smiling for a minute.


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"I also don't think there was one person she didn't wave to - and 99% of them waved back to her.

"She had a sash on saying 'Birthday Girl', so everyone was wishing her a happy birthday."

Lily Risley with the horses which pulled the carriage for her ride 

Lily Risley with the horses which pulled the carriage for her ride - Credit: Paulette Coe/Layer Marney Horse Drawn Carriages

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Kevin said his mum was born in the East End of London and evacuated during the war, then moved to Sudbury in 1960.

She has two sons and a daughter, five grandchildren and two-great-grandchildren. Sadly, she lost her husband, Ben, 25 years ago.

The family wanted to make her birthday really special after the difficult past year during Covid, and decided to make her dream of riding in a carriage come true. 

Lily Risley's carriage ride through Sudbury and Long Melford

Lily Risley's carriage ride through Sudbury and Long Melford - Credit: Luke Hearn

Kevin wasn't sure how difficult it would be to arrange a carriage ride, but then he found details of Layer Marney Horse Drawn Carriages, near Colchester. 

"They were absolutely fabulous and nothing was too much trouble for them," he said.

Family members, including some from Kent and Halstead in Essex, came along to join in the celebration, which was extra special as they had not been able to see one another during lockdown.

Police helped to ensure Lily Risley's 90th-birthday carriage ride went smoothly

Police helped to ensure Lily Risley's 90th-birthday carriage ride went smoothly - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

Kevin's daughter, Sheryl, said: "It has been so difficult not seeing my nan during the lockdown restrictions, so to be able to give her such a special birthday treat was great. She really deserved it.

"I rode in the carriage with my nan and dad and it was heart-warming to watch my nan’s sheer happiness as the people of Sudbury and Long Melford waved back at her and called out 'Happy Birthday' as we passed through."

"Thank you to everyone involved for making her birthday celebration so memorable."

Police helped to ensure Lily Risley's 90th-birthday carriage ride went smoothly

Police helped to ensure Lily Risley's 90th-birthday carriage ride went smoothly - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

The family paid tribute to the local police, who followed them on their journey and helped with the traffic, and said they wanted to thank PC Darren Marshall and PCSO Grant Skeggs for all their help.

On their Facebook page, Sudbury police thanked motorists for their patience, and said the ride "brought countless smiles to folks as they walked or drove by".

The post added: "Lily, it was a pleasure and a privilege to meet you."

Lily Risley with the horses that drew her birthday carriage

Lily Risley with the horses that drew her birthday carriage - Credit: Maria Risley


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