In light of the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II, we bring together memories from those in our community who were lucky enough to meet Britain’s longest reigning monarch.
“I have been presented to the Queen twice. The first time was at the 350th Anniversary of the Jewish
community being allowed back into the UK by Oliver Cromwell. She had this aura around her – everyone knew what she looks like, she was probably the most iconic figure on the planet – but what really impressed me about her (and the other royals when I’ve met some of them) is how well-informed she was. This was at an event about the Jewish community so she was interested in what I did within the community and I think that she expected me to say that I worked in London and while she was aware there are substantial Jewish communities around the country, she was very interested to hear that here in Leeds we were trying to do our own thing in terms of looking after those in need. You could tell from the questions she asked that she was a regular in a hospital environment. She was an absolute consummate professional.”
Edward Ziff, OBE DL Hon DBA, Alwoodley
Another lovely memory of the Queen comes from Keith Warner. In 1977, the Queen visited Barnsley in South Yorkshire. The traders were told under no terms to speak to her Majesty. As she passed Keith leapt in front and said: “Your Majesty” as he gave a huge bow. With great amusement she started a conversation and asked if trade had been good. He said it has been good: “but if you were to buy something off me, ma’am, it would be much better.” They had a lovely laugh and a beautiful exchange captured in this photo and in Keith’s heart forever.
Keith Warner, Alwoodley (and Barnsley)
“I encountered the Queen when I attended an event at St James’ Palace celebrating 350 years since the Jewish community was allowed back into Britain. I remember that as she came down the stairs to greet her guests she had such a great presence. I wasn’t presented to the Queen on this occasion, I was presented to Prince Philip instead, but she still left such an impression.
“I was presented to the Queen when I received my MBE. For those few moments that she spoke to me she made me feel as if I had her full attention and was the only person who mattered. That was a great gift that she possessed.
“She truly fulfilled the promise that she made when she was 21: to devote her whole life, selflessly, to the service of her people.”
Sue Baker, MBE JP DL, High Sheriff of West Yorkshire
“When I was just a young boy I can remember this one day in school, being informed by the Head Master and Principal in the morning assembly that at 1pm in the afternoon, after lunchtime, the entire school, pupils and teachers and staff, that we would together make our way down to the main road, Bury New Road, Manchester, as HM The Queen, Queen Elizabeth II would be passing enroute as part of her tour of Greater Manchester.
“And this was genuinely, such an iconic moment in my life. You see, I was brought up in a home, in a family that truly adored the monarchy.
“I was brought up in a home where I would often be reminded that my Bubba and Zeida purchased their first television set in time for the coronation like so many others did at that time.
“She was and will remain a steadfast guardian of timeless tradition and values. Despite the obvious distance she carried a closeness to her people, to all of us, where at this time, a nearness and sadness is felt at this time of national mourning. So, may G-d give Her Majesty rest in eternal peace and may G-d save and protect His Majesty King Charles III.
So please let the young boy within me stand with you all on this moment in our nation’s history and say in the inimitable words of my good friend Paddington Bear himself: ‘Your Majesty, thank you, thank you for everything.’”
Rabbi Alby Chait MBE
“I met the Queen in July 1987. Humberside Fire Brigade wanted a new headquarters which were built at Hessle. I was one of the structural engineers who designed the structure. The Queen and Prince Philip were invited to open it. All the professionals who were involved in the design and construction of the headquarters we were invited to meet the Queen. We all stood in a row and the Queen and Prince Philip came and shook hands with and had a little chat with everybody. “It was an unexpected privilege. My first impression of her was how tiny she was, 5′-3″ I think! But she was very nice and pleasant and talked to all of the professionals and asked them how they were and what part they played in the project. She was very knowledgeable about the building.”
Robert Smith, Alwoodley