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A reign-y day to remember

PLA deputy company secretary Jayne Stokes recalls a wet but very happy day rowing on the river, marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee eight years ago.

She is pictured (second right) ahead of the pageant at Denton, with Lee Walker and former colleagues Barbara Meddings, Jane Collins, and Dave Bird

Before we set off, I do remember having a briefing. We were told not to start waving to people who we knew when the procession got underway, particularly when we rowed past the Queen and all her family aboard Spirit of Chartwell at Chelsea

Also on board was former PLA pilot John Freestone, Her Majesty’s skipper for the day, who used to cox for the PLA Rowing Club from time to time.  

Our former Chair, Helen Alexander was in the royal party too, along with Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London, the Prime Minister of the day, David Cameron, and loads of other VIPs. 

We were on the right side of the river to see everyone

As we rowed past, Helen saw us and started waving frantically.

We waved back, of course, sending our synchronised rowing stroke to pot, much to the amusement of the mayor, who made a cheeky comment! 

We got absolutely soaked through that day.

Arriving at the finish line in Greenwich Pier, we got a round of applause from the crowds. The support from onlookers all along the route was amazing.

Even though we looked like drowned rats, we had to a TV interview afterwards.

I also recall that we couldn’t find anywhere to get changed, so we ended up stripping off in an underground car park to put dry clothes on!

When I got home, I got straight into a hot bath with a brandy and hot chocolate!!

All in all, it was a very memorable day, one I shall never forget.

I feel very privileged to have had the chance be part of it.

Related: Explore the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant