Video & Gallery: Hundreds gather to greet the Queen in Suffolk

THE Queen was met by hundreds of well wishers as she arrived at a day centre in Suffolk.

Following a morning on the gallops watching her Derby hopeful Carlton House with trainer Sir Michael Stoute, Her Majesty stopped at the Newmarket Day Care Centre to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

Hundreds lined the streets outside the centre in Fred Archer Way to see the The Queen arrive for a 45-minute visit.

Wearing a blue dress and hat the Queen was met by a number of dignities including the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk Lord Tollemache, West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock and Suffolk Chief Constable Simon Ash.

The Royal visitor was handed a posy of flowers by Tara Ferguson, 11, grand-daughter of Margaret Ferguson, member of the Friends of the Newmarket Day Centre, and she was also introduced to John McGhee, Forest Heath District Council chairman and Mick Jeffreys, Newmarket town mayor.


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A number of people waved flags and others sang an impromptu version of God Save the Queen.

Her Majesty paused to wave to the crowds before going into the day centre where rapturous applause greeted her arrival into the centre’s canteen before she embarked on a tour of the building by Paul Goffin, chief executive of the centre.

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Janet Custerson was with her niece Gloria Loker to see the Queen. The event will for ever be in her memory because Ms Loker’s daughter, Kirsten Johnson, gave a hairdressing demonstration for the Queen who visited the centre’s over-50 unisex hair salon, Silver Snips, which she said was “a rather good title”.

In the salon she was introduced to day care centre client Vera Smith, 83, from Stetchworth.

“I was a little bit nervous but it was wonderful meeting her. She looked very nice and is a wonderful person,” said Mrs Smith.

“She asked me what I do when I come here and where I come from.”

Following her visit to the salon, Her Majesty was taken to the neighbouring chiropody room where she was introduced to members of staff before heading back to the canteen to talk to regular clients of the centre.

Among those she spoke to was former jockey Alfie Westwood and former trainer Gerry Blum, who showed her pictures of the 1945 1,000 Guineas winner Sun Stream, owned by Lord Derby and trained at Stanley House Stables by Walter Earl.

“She was very interested in the horses and the pictures that I showed her. I spoke to her about the time that the King’s horse Hypericum threw her jockey off before the start of the 1946 1,000 Guineas and yet still managed to win the race,” said Mr Blum, 87.

Mr Westwood said: “It was a lovely surprise. She asked me when I got involved with racing and what my best moment was and I told her about beating Sir Gordon Richards on a 25-1 shot.”

After talking to guests the Queen then signed a portrait of herself before unveiling a plaque celebrating the 30th anniversary of the centre, before a speech was made by Dr John Calvert, chairman of the trustees.

He said: “On behalf of all those who work here and use the ce ntre I express the gratitude from us all for the time that you have spent here as it will never be forgotten. We would also like to wish the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge a long life and great happiness.”

On leaving the centre the Royal visitor was presented with more flowers by children from St Louis Primary School in Newmarket before waving to crowds on her departure.

“It was an amazing honour and it felt quite surreal. To talk to the most famous woman in the world and talk to her face-to- face is an honour,” said Mr Goffin.

“She was supposed to come last November but had to cancel at the last minute due to a state duty but she said she was determined to come and her visit could not have come at a better time.’’

Also in the crowd were Jean and Hans Wolff.

Mrs Wolff said they only learned at the last minute that the Queen was coming to Newmarket. “There was an announcement about it in the morning and we were in the right place at the right time.”

Maurita McErlain said she felt it was a big honour for Newmarket that the town hosted her first public engagement since her grandson’s wedding.

Newmarket mayor Michael Jeffreys said: “It is a great honour for me, as the Mayor of Newmarket, to be able to greet the Queen on her visit to Newmarket to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the opening of the day centre.

“It is particularly pleasing that the Queen should visit our town so soon after the wedding of William and Catherine.

“This must have been a very busy time for Her Majesty and we are delighted that one of her first engagements following the wedding has been to visit Newmarket.”

Mr Hancock said: “I am a keen supporter of the Newmarket Day Centre, which is a fantastic venue right in the middle of Newmarket.

“I am thrilled that the Queen was able to mark their achievements over the last 30 years with a visit, especially after such a fantastic weekend celebrating the Royal Wedding.

“The Queen’s visit is testament to the brilliant work the day centre has done over the years, and its importance in the future. It was an honour to be invited to greet the Queen, and to take part in a wonderful day for Newmarket.”

Many who gathered outside also commented on her visit.

Cyril Coombes, of Rous Road, Newmarket, said: “I thought there was going to be a crowd but not this many. I think half the town is here. She looked at me and waved and I got some smashing pictures.”

Denise Johnson, of Meadow Lane, Newmarket, added: “It has been lovely. When she got out of the car she looked vibrant and beaming. It’s nice to have her here after the wedding on Friday. We feel honoured.”

Claire Woods said she had brought her two daughters Holly, two, and Jessica, three, after they watched last week’s Royal Wedding.

“We’ve rushed out to see it. They were supposed to be going to ballet. They really wanted to see the Queen after we watched the Royal Wedding.”

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