Following an appeal for coronation stories from its UK residents, retirement property management company ELM Group shares a unique account from resident Jim Smith, who was fortunate to have witnessed the two last Coronations and is looking forward to observing that of King Charles III this weekend
A Surrey retiree looks forward to witnessing his THIRD royal Coronation this weekend
As we approach the anticipated coronation ceremony this Saturday, leading retirement property management company ELM Group speaks to a resident from an estate it manages in Surrey who, after this Saturday, would have witnessed three royal coronations in his lifetime.
Jim Smith, 92, from Surrey observed the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and attended Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953, making the ascension of King Charles III the third coronation he will have been alive to witness.
Jim shared his coronation memories with fellow residents as they watched a re-cap of The Queen’s coronation online in preparation for their coronation plans. Then, following an appeal by ELM Group to find residents who have lived through previous coronations and were willing to share their rare and precious memories, Jim stepped forward to share his account of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.
Invitation to the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation
Jim, whose father was a Clerk of Works for the Ministry at the time of the Queen’s Coronation, said:
“My Dad was responsible for ensuring all the preparations along the route of the procession complied with the critical path network. In recognition of a job well done he was allocated six seated locations along the route for family members.
At that time, I was doing my National Service, stationed at RAF Nuneham Park, and together with a friend managed to obtain a 72-hour pass to take advantage of this opportunity. We caught the milk train to get ahead of the crowds and were delighted to find that we were seated close to the Admiralty Arch in the front row of an elevated VIP stand complete with light refreshments and latrine. Appropriately, sailors lined the edge on this section of the Mall before allowing the crowds to gather in the space behind.”
Jim goes on to describe the build up to the arrival of the Queen’s procession as he waited eagerly with the rest of the crowd:
“The crowds were in good spirits occasionally breaking out in song with a few old wartime favourites. The procession could be heard long before it finally arrived, and the crowds cheered and applauded with cameras clicking to record their presence on this historic occasion.
Upon the arrival of the gold coach the noise of the crowd reached a crescendo which was an outpour of love and affection for the newly crowned Queen.”
After the Queen’s coronation drew to a close, Jim returned to camp where his Commanding Officer held a celebratory ball in honour of the Queen. Invitations were sent to neighbouring Air Bases for Officers to attend the ball at the historic Nuneham House.
“This extravagant party was a great success with the Officers enjoying themselves well into the early hours. My rank was that of a Corporal and was called upon together with two other NCO’s to act as waiters, which wasn’t without its perks – and a hangover to boot!”
Lorraine Collis, Chief Executive at ELM Group said:
“There have been a total of 39 coronations at Westminster Abbey since 1066 and there are few people alive who can say they have witnessed three of them, let alone one in person.
As an organisation, we are always delighted to hear stories and pieces of history from our residents – many of whom have had so many inspirational and unique life experiences. It’s important to us to be able to share and celebrate these stories, which so many of us can relate to and feel inspired by.”
ELM Group manages retirement communities across the South of England and has become one of the UK’s leading retirement leasehold management companies. The company originated in 1971 as Retirement Lease Housing Association (RLHA) a charitable organisation founded by a group of volunteers with a shared vision – to pioneer the development of sheltered housing for sale to people of retirement age. Sheltered housing for rent was already widely available, but the founders wanted to introduce the concept to those who valued owning their own property and saw the benefits of a purpose-built Estate, with onsite support from an Estate Manager.
Having built upon their enviable reputation in the independent retirement living sector, RLHA are proud to be one of the South of England’s leading leasehold property management companies.