A day to remember - Sheffield residents pack the streets for royal visit

Queen visits Sheffield Cathedral for the Maunti Thursday service - Kathryn and Henry (20 months) Wileman come to see Henry's great-grandad get awarded his coin - from Rotherham
Queen visits Sheffield Cathedral for the Maunti Thursday service - Kathryn and Henry (20 months) Wileman come to see Henry's great-grandad get awarded his coin - from Rotherham

They waited for hours to grab a glimpse of The Queen – all with their own special reasons for being there.

It was a memorable day for the estimated 9,000 to 10,000 people who packed into Sheffield city centre for the royal visit.

The Queen with the Dean of Sheffield Peter Bradley at Sheffield Cathedral for Maundy Thursday. Picture: Andrew Roe

The Queen with the Dean of Sheffield Peter Bradley at Sheffield Cathedral for Maundy Thursday. Picture: Andrew Roe

Crowds were a dozen deep in places around Sheffield Cathedral, with people clambering on to walls, railings and bins in an attempt to get the best view.

People cheered and waved Union Jacks as the royal party arrived around 11am.

The Queen arrived in Sheffield by train where a crowd waited at the railway station to greet her and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Royalist Linda Mitchell had been waiting for about an hour.

The 55-year-old, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, presented her with a mixed spring bouquet of flowers from Marks & Spencer.

Linda, who has seen the Queen ‘dozens of times’, said: “She looked brilliant for 89 and the Duke looked brilliant for 93.”

Many of those waiting outside Sheffield Cathedral had a special connection to the Maundy service, supporting elderly relatives who had been selected to receive Maundy money from the Queen.

Among the first to arrive outside the cathedral, at 6.40am, was 71-year-old Hazel Wright, from Ecclesall.

Mrs Wright, a member of the choir at All Saints Church in Ecclesall, said she had waited all her life to see a member of the royal family.

She said: “I am very excited to be here because I have never seen the Queen or any member of the royal family before, so I thought I had better get up early and get my place.

“I got up at 5am but it was worth it to be able to get so close to the cathedral to get a good view of her.”

Kathryn Wileman, from Rotherham, was there with her 20-month-old son Henry.

They were there in support of Henry’s great-grandfather Alf Wileman, another of the pensioners meeting the Queen today.

Mr Wileman, 87, has been in The Salvation Army’s Sheffield band for nearly 70 years.

Kathryn said her grandfather was ‘absolutely delighted’ to have been selected for the honour.

She said she hoped Henry would have good memories of the day when he is older.

“It is the story behind it, to be able to say we were here and we saw the Queen,” she said.

Also in the crowd were parents Matt and Kelly Wooller, from Dronfield, whose son Alex was born on the same day as Prince George.

They also brought along their neighbours’ daughter Eden Kus, six.

Kelly said: “With Alex being born on the same day as Prince George, we thought it would be really nice to see her.”

Following the service, the Queen and Prince Philip were flanked by members of the King’s Bodyguard of the Yeoman of the Guard, in full red uniform.

Members of the 148 Barnsley Squadron Air Cadets, who had earlier formed a guard of honour on the Queen’s arrival, again stood outside the cathedral.

Watching with pride was Susan Richmond, whose son Samuel, 14, was taking part. He began the day assisting at the Meadowhall tram station before forming the guard of honour.

She said: “I’m very proud of him. He was a little bit nervous but he was full of smiles.”

The Queen collected flowers from children before driving to Sheffield Town Hall, where the Royal couple had lunch with civic dignitaries and invited guests.

Outside the Town Hall large crowds greeted the couple once again, including Claire Rose, 31, of Sheffield, and her sons Benjamin, nine, and Joshua, eight.

Mrs Rose, a former forces’ medic, met the Queen in 2003 at a remembrance service for those who died in the Iraq War.

She said: “I’ve met the Queen before and wanted the boys to see her. It’s nice for the children to know about their heritage.”

Many of those outside Sheffield Cathedral were members of the same church as those chosen to receive the Royal Maundy.

David Hopkin, rector of Penistone Church, nominated deputy church warden Fred Etherington, 77, of Penistone.

Mr Hopkin said: “Fred has done a lot of work over the years for the church and very much deserved it.

“He takes tours to Belgium and France to visit war graves, and that is why he was chosen. He not only takes tours, but comes back and speaks to children in schools of his experiences.

“We’re very proud of him.”

The crowds were full of families and many grandparents brought their grandchildren to witness the event.

Kent and Victoria Holroyd, of Hackenthorpe, brought their six-year-old daughter Poppy along.

At the age of nine, Mr Holroyd had waited for eight hours in the pouring rain to see the Queen when she visited the city in 1978, and wanted his daughter to have the same experience.

“I think it is great that the royal family are growing in popularity again,” he said.

“We can rely on them, they are always there, steadfast. She’s brilliant, the Queen.”

Margaret and Peter Marsh, from Woodseats, came along with granddaughters Emily, seven, and Daisy, four.

Mr Marsh first saw the Queen outside Sheffield Wednesday’s football ground in the 1950s.

He said: “When you have grandchildren, you see the life through their eyes. It’s something for them to remember.”