Surrey Coalition of Disabled People

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An unforgettable day

On a cool June morning Eddie and I were present at the culminating Royal event on Runnymede meadows celebrating the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta.

Having attended several planning meetings since early 2014, I received a confidential e-mail invitation.

Security procedures were cleared and two days before, I was told that Eddie and I, my faithful Guide Dog were to be among a select few who were to be presented to Her Majesty queen Elizabeth. I was permitted to have a trusted friend to assist me and shortly before 8 a.m. we were allowed to take our places on the front row in the specially constructed arena.

Before us was a large stage on which a large screen, a performance space and seats for the Royal party were set up. My friend kept up a commentary on events. The London Philharmonic orchestra played and David Starkey, provided a riveting commentary throughout.

Displays of dancing which included mobility and other disabled children performed, together with large child-operated puppets. The Duke of Cambridge was the first “Royal” to arrive, followed by Princess Anne and husband before the Queen and her husband.

jonathan_and_queen

Other personages included David Cameron, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the US Attorney General. On a given signal, I was ushered to stand in line for her majesty to walk along and speak briefly to us. In less than two minutes I was able to tell her that I represented Surrey Coalition and Runnymede Access Liaison Group. “Jolly good!” was the royal reply.

The moment passed so fast!

The new “jurists” art installation of 12 Bronze chairs was unveiled by the American Bar Association London’s Temple choristers sang a special anthem composed by John Rutter and the formalities came to an end. Not quite so. While sitting on a bronze chair which had Braille commemorating the 1920 March of the Blind in America; a Spitfire, a Typhoon jet fighter and the Red Arrows roared overhead.

Nothing to do with me, David Starkey was concluding his work when he remarked, “That Guide Dog on the front row lay down and went to sleep when anyone, including her majesty made a speech. As soon as they stopped, he woke up!”. One related development is that many new road safety improvements will be a legacy. New crossings over the riverside A308 and in time massive pedestrian improvements to the Runnymede roundabout will help the public to access our heritage landscape.

Perhaps I had a hand. Monday June 15th, 2015 will remain in my mind as long as I live.

Jonathan Fisher.

I must thank, Kim Birch (SCC MC Consortium) and Mary Smith for their patient support.