This month we celebrate 35 years of service to Age UK organisations by our Finance and Corporate services officer, Margot Luke. Margot joined what is now Age UK Waltham Forest in September 1987 where she worked for 22 years and joined Age UK London in 2009 where she is an important and much appreciated member of our small team.
During her time Margot has seen many changes within the charity, team members coming and going and a merger between Help the Aged and Age Concern creating what is our network of Age UK today. Margot has also seen many world events and moments in history and of course has grown up with Elizabeth II as our Queen.
Like many people in offices all over the UK, during the past week we have talked about the Queen’s death and the end of the Elizabethan era. We know that the Queen was respected and admired by many older Londoners. We shared personal reflections as well as gratitude for Her Majesty’s years of public service.
It was during these discussions that Margot shared with us her memories of how, when she was just five years old, she remembered watching the coronation on TV at her neighbour’s house in London.
It is one of Margot’s earliest memories and although she has forgotten the intricate details of the day it has nonetheless stayed with her over the years. This weeks’ events have awakened the memory for Margot and we all remarked at what an amazing experience it must have been.
Margot recalls that time because it was also when her family was due to move to Suffolk where her father was taking up a new job. Like many other families at that time, Margot’s parents did not have a television.
Margot recalls all the excitement of the occasion with her mum and dad and her older brother and sister all filed into their next door neighbour’s house and settled down in the crowded front room to watch the Queen’s Coronation – the biggest event to be televised at that time. 27 million people in the UK (out of the 36 million population) watched the ceremony on television and 11 million listened on the radio.
Although it was broadcast in colour, Margot remembers it was a black and white TV and it had a very small screen.
It could have been her imagination, or perhaps real, but Margot senses that as the youngest and smallest in the room she was placed sitting directly in front of the television. And though not fully understanding what she was watching and seeing, she recalls taking in the atmosphere, and knowing something really important was happening. She says “I knew it was a big deal” and she especially recalls the joy of watching a TV for the first time!
Even at that young age Margot understood she was part of a very special occasion that brought families and friends and neighbours together to be part of our Monarch’s celebrations.
We all have our own memories of the Queen, most recently the Platinum Anniversary, celebrating 70 years of the Queen’s sovereignty. For Margot, her recollections go back to the earliest part of the Queen’s reign.
Having an opportunity to share, and talk and reminisce, and hearing and imagining that picture of Margot as a small child, wide-eyed and excited as the Queen was crowned was lovely to hear. We were all delighted to hear Margot’s own story, and we all have our own memories of the Queen and that’s why it’s only right to say: thank you for the memories, your Majesty.