COUNTY NEWS: Volunteer's '˜once-in-a-lifetime' experience at royal wedding
The feeling of love was tangible at last weekend's royal wedding, according to one East Sussex volunteer who joined in the celebrations.
Steve Wise, from Hastings, was one of the 1,200 members of the public invited to attend Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day, based on the strength of his contribution to the community.
Steve worked as a psychiatric nurse for 42 years, volunteers at Hope Kitchen supporting homeless people in the town and gives talks on preventing slavery, human trafficking and exploitation.
He attended the royal wedding on Saturday (May 19) with his wife Sonia.
Writing about his experience of the day, Steve said: “After a fraught Friday we finally managed to head towards Slough, where we were to spend the night at Ye Olde George a coaching inn with no straight edges.
“Saturday at 6.30am we got out of bed, dressed in our finery, headed to the car and sallied forth to Windsor. We had a car park pass and the route given to us took us to the back of the castle. Security, as you can imagine, was very tight. As invited guests we were fast-tracked, although that was a misnomer – it took over an hour to get into the grounds.
“We took our positions opposite the round tower and waited. The A-listers started to arrive at 11am, so celeb spotting was in order.
“Lots of waving and cheering, along with “George, over here” shouted by a young lady who was clearly a big fan of Mr. Clooney.
“Coaches rolled in and people were spewed out. Finally we saw the two Princes walking to the chapel. Harry and William resplendent in full dress uniform. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were driven all the way to the chapel, as were Charles and Camilla, Kate and the bridesmaids and pageboys. At 11.55 we caught our first sight of the bride and her mother, the noise was incredible.
“We then spent the next hour joining in with the service which was broadcast live. The crowd cheered every “I will” and “I do” which is why Harry was laughing.
“The biggest surprise of the day was Bishop Michael Curry who was to speak for 5 minutes and stopped after 17.
“The register was signed out of sight from all and finally we had a new Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
“The couple were driven around Windsor in an open-topped carriage and we had a brilliant view. The guests then walked past us and had time to talk to the crowd. I managed to get a few words with Bishop Curry, a lovely man.
“Every guest on the list that we were on had been invited due to their services to their fellow man. In our section we had an Imam, a couple from the midlands who worked to stop the gang culture and promote racial harmony, a 14-year-old girl who cared for her disabled sister and people from Penzance caring for destitute families by providing food and employment. The feeling of love was tangible.
“Everyone had a role and played it to perfection. The armed forces, the security services, the castle stewards and ushers, and of course the organisers of the event.
“A once-in-a-lifetime event which highlighted the work of volunteers like the fantastic teams in Hastings.”