It was a red letter day for students from Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School on the 16th May when they were invited to be a part of the welcome to Her Majesty the Queen when she visited Burnley Football Club at the start of her diamond jubilee tour of the north west.
Arriving nice and early we claimed a spot by the barriers along the roadside and settled down to await the royal visitor. Scores of both primary and secondary school children joined us waving their flags and soaking up the sunshine, chatting happily and eagerly peering along the road expectantly. It wasn’t long before the crowd further down the road started cheering and jumping up and down with excitement, and we all stretched up on our tiptoes to see - and there she was – Dora the Explorer had come to entertain us while we waited. Even more squealing heralded the arrival of Spongebob Squarepants, waving to children and capering about.
However, we knew something was really about to happen when a group of cadets marched along the road and spaced themselves out to form an honour guard for the visiting royalty. It was really exciting to see some of our own BRGS students standing to attention and forming part of the honour guard – something they’ll never forget.
Moments later, with blue lights flashing, the police convoy arrived preceding the royal party. A number of cars flashed by bearing smart looking men and women in hats – but at last at the rear was a magnificent burgundy Rolls Royce bearing Her Majesty in a lime green outfit, along with the Duke of Edinburgh . Cameras flashed, the crowd cheered, flags fluttered, the Queen waved, and then they were gone! Eagerly, cameras were checked – who’d got the best photo?
We then went into Burnley Football Club and sat in the stands watching a whole host of performances – orchestral pieces, dances, songs – performed by children of all ages from the region’s schools. The weather was really good to us – it threatened rain, but turned instead to sunshine while we watched and applauded. Then, at the end of the performance, to cheers and a standing ovation, the royal party emerged onto a specially constructed balcony and we heartily sang the national anthem (although the second verse wasn’t quite as hearty). Once the royal party had left (the Queen was moving on to Accrington) we were dismissed school by school and made our way back to our coach.
It was a memorable day, and special mention has to be made of the pupils – not just from BRGS, but from all the other schools as well. In a time when school children are so often in the news for poor or rowdy behavior, the students all around behaved impeccably and were a pleasure to be with. Her Royal Majesty can take comfort in the fact that the young people of East Lancashire are exactly the sort who can be the leaders of the future.