Diamond Jubilee
Memories of The Queen's visit to Redditch

By Ian Dipple 08/06 Updated: 08/06 11:26

Buy photos » Madge Tillsley with her MBE outside Buckingham Palace with her late husband Jim and Insp Margaret Toole, who was responsible for community relations at the time. (s)

CLAIRE Abson remembers little about her meeting with The Queen but many others will as she made headlines as the girl who ran away from Her Majesty.

While walking along Evesham Walk on her one and only visit to the town in 1983, Queen Elizabeth II was approached by a shy two and a half-year-old from Redditch who tottered up to her cluthing a bunch of flowers she had picked from her grandmother's garden the day before. But as Claire got nearer it got too much for her and she turned to run back into the arms of her mother, much to the amusement of The Queen, her entourage and the crowd.

Claire, now 32, told the Standard: "I can remember there were hundereds of people there as it was quite a big thing for Redditch and people really turned out, and I was in a union jack dress and they ushered me over and said I was going to give The Queen some flowers.

"I remember looking up at her and thinking oh my God she’s such a huge lady and turned and ran back to my mum. We didn’t think anyone had taken any photos and the next day I was all over the front of the paper.

"A few years later at school we were asked to write letters to someone famous and I wrote to The Queen about how I’d met her and did she remember but I never got a reply.

"It’s my claim to fame and every couple of years we will get the photos out and it’s a wonderful memory."

Mum Carole, who still lives in the family home in Lodge Park, added: "She just got really scared and started crying. The Queen came over to us and we handed her the flowers and she said 'That was a scary moment for her wasn’t it' and it was just really nice to meet her. I remember her entourage around her just fell about laughing.

"It was a lovely day and we laugh about it now."

Another famous Redditch resident also remembers the day well. Madge Tillsley caused quite a stir arriving ahead of the visit in a maroon coloured Rolls Royce.

"We went up to the Kingfisher Centre and everybody was craning their necks wondering who was this coming up the road and the chauffeur opened up the door and I stepped out and I said 'It's only me' and they all clapped," she said.

"She greeted me and asked where I was from and I told her and she gave a lovely smile."

It was not to be Madge's only meeting with Her Majesty as it was The Queen who presented her with an MBE at Buckingham Palace in 1987.

"I told her how my family loved her family very much, especially her late father, and she said oh thank you very much and I said do you remember when you came to Redditch and she said oh yes what a lovely day it was."

Buy photos» Madge Tillsley with her MBE outside Buckingham Palace with her late husband Jim and Insp Margaret Toole, who was responsible for community relations at the time. (s)

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