West Sussex Deputy Lieutenants pay tribute to the Queen and share personal recollections ahead of the Platinum Jubilee

Deputy Lieutenants in West Sussex have spoken of their admiration for the Queen and shared their own personal recollections ahead of the Platinum Jubilee.

Lilian Holdsworth, a former Worthing magistrate, actually appeared in the Coronation show in 1952 – her first professional appearance with The Tiller Girls, the world's longest-running dance troupe.

At the age of 15, she appeared with the Crazy Gang, known as the Royal Jesters, at the Victoria Palace in Ring Out the Bells and still has the souvenir programme.

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She said Princess Margaret was a regular and the Duke of Edinburgh often came in too, especially for charity performances.

Lilian Holdsworth with the Crazy Gang front cover, featuring herself when she was 15

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Lilian said: "You can imagine the celebrities who came to see us. Princess Margaret used to come regularly with 'Flash Harry', '. Sir Malcolm Sergeant.

"I come from a truly humble background. I literally had school uniform and hand-me-downs altered by my mother. So to experience being fitted with wonderful velvets and silks for the production numbers in the show, I just couldn't believe the luxury of those beautiful costumes.

"I was born two years before the outbreak of the Second World War and I was brought up on rations, so to be frugal has been with me all my life. I never dreamed I would ever wear such elegant clothes."

The Queen being cheered into the room, accompanied by John Nelson

It was her dancing teacher and her mother who decided Lilian was going on the stage. An audition was arranged with the Tiller School of Dancing and so began her career.

For six exciting years, Lilian was a high-kicking, high-energy, high-precision Tiller Girl performing routines such as the perky poodle parade and can-canning her way through it all.

She was educated in Leeds and left school at 15, as was the norm in those days.

Lilian said: "In the North of England, where I come from, you went out to work to help out the family as soon as possible.

The Duke of Edinburgh signs the visitor's book as the Queen and Lloyd's chairman John Nelson look on

"Times have changed. Back then, I had no say in the matter. I was told what I was going to do and I did it. And that was to be a dancer."

The show, which Lilian said was widely acknowledged as the Coronation show, was performed in the summer of 1952 in Blackpool as Top of the Town and then renamed as Ring Out the Bells for London, where it ran from October 1952 to May 1954.

Lilian said: "The Coronation was a huge boost. My admiration for the Queen knows no bounds. I admire her stoicism and forward thinking, how she has understood the need to move with the times while honouring the traditions and maintaining the dignity of the monarchy."

The show was performed twice a night and Lilian said it was hard work but tremendous fun.

"Doing the same thing twice nightly was quite something and we would appear about ten times a performance, changing our costumes about 20 times a night. You had to be energetic."

Lilian thoroughly enjoyed her years as a Tiller Girl but when she turned 21, she decided she it was time to move on and went into the more lucrative world of fashion.

Having devoted her life to working in the voluntary sector, Lilian met the Queen in person when she was made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours in1997 and said Her Majesty ‘was very easy to chat to’

John Nelson has met the Queen a number of times, as chairman of Lloyd's of London.

What stands out for him was the visit of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on March 27, 2014, to celebrate Lloyd's 325-year anniversary.

John said: “It was a wonderful day. She was in really sparkling form and he was very funny."

The room was packed, with underwriters and brokers filling all the escalators and crowds several rows deep on each of the floors above.

In his welcome address, John told the Queen: "I am not simply thanking you for visiting us today, but for the support you have given us across the 62 years of your reign."

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh met leading underwriters as well as beneficiaries of Lloyd's Patriotic Fund. They were also introduced to representatives from RedR, the disaster relief charity funded by Lloyd's Charities Trust, and two university students, whose studies were supported by Lloyd's Community Programme, before unveiling a plaque to commemorate the visit.

The Duke witnessed how face-to-face business was conducted and asked chief underwriting officer Paul Lawrence: "Is the Royal Collection insured against damage by mice?"

"For you, everything is covered," joked Mr Lawrence.

John said when the Queen walked in, the whole place erupted.

"It gave the whole Lloyd’s market a tremendous lift,” he recalled. “We had about 10,000 people in the room cheering her and as she left the room, they gave her three cheers.

"She took a great interest in the market, as has the royal family generally over many years, and the Duke of Edinburgh was in his normal ebullient and inimitable form, cracking jokes.”

What was interesting for John was that when the Queen came to Chichester three years later, in November 2017, she work exactly the same outfit.