Memories were stirred ahead of a special event in Bridport to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Next weekend, the Bridport Big Band will perform at a concert organized by the Rotary Club of Bridport to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on February 6, 1952.
On the same day 70 years ago, Elizabeth Buckler, 17, of Burton Bradstock, was being interviewed by BBC presenter – ‘Voice of the Nation’ Richard Dimbleby – in Dorchester when news of the death of George VI and hence Princess Elizabeth arrived. accession to the throne.
Miss Buckler – who became Elizabeth Gale – was one of the first students at Dorset Farm Institute – now Kingston Maurward College – and was invited to appear on the radio show ‘Down Your Way’.
The Bridport Grammar School alum had recently returned from a six-week trip to Canada sponsored by Garfield Weston.
She recalled how she was sitting rehearsing the interview with Richard Dimbleby at 9.30am at the Antelope Hotel when an assistant came into the room and whispered in Dimbleby’s ear. He then turned to Elizabeth and said, “The king is dead.”
She said: “The taping took place but the broadcast was delayed for several weeks due to the King’s death and funeral. Richard Dimbleby was the main commentator throughout the radio and television presentations who followed.
“The announcement of the King’s death was not released to the general public until 10.45am that morning.”
Later she went to Bournemouth for an outing with other students and remembered that most businesses had closed, flags were at half mast and all shops were dressed in black and purple.
“For a fortnight after the king’s death, radio and television broadcast only funeral music and the news until after the funeral.”
As a Bridport Rotarian, Ms. Gale assists Platinum Jubilee concert organizers, President Bernard Paull and President-Elect Colin Bowditch.
Musical numbers from the Queen’s lifetime will form the extensive program. The event is in aid of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and Ukraine Appeal.
The Rotary Concert with the Bridport Big Band will take place on Saturday 28 May at Bridport United Church at 7pm for 7.30pm. Tickets for £12 are available from Bridport TIC, Rotarians and onsite.
Refreshments will be available and the concert will end with the audience participating in singing patriotic and appropriate songs.
Ms Gale said: “I saw the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh when they visited Dorchester in the spring of 1952 and later that summer at the Bath and West Show (then a moveable party) at Newton Abbott where he stood that year.
“At that time in my life, everything seemed simpler, and we didn’t crave material things. I remember the new Elizabethan era as exciting, fresh and joyful.”