Coxswain’s tea with the Queen after 30 years

Tom Clark and his finacee Nicky Ridley at Buckingham Palace for a tea party
Tom Clark and his finacee Nicky Ridley at Buckingham Palace for a tea party

Scarborough lifeboat coxswain Tom Clark has had an invitation he couldn’t refuse – tea with the Queen.

With 30 years service under his belt, Mr Clark was invited to one of the monarch’s garden parties at Buckingham Palace in London.

His name was put forward for the occasion by Lord Crathorne in his capacity of lord lieutenant of North Yorkshire.

Among the others present were the Duke of Kent, who is an RNLI patron, the Earl of Wessex, and the Marines and Paratroopers bands, which played the national anthem.

“It was a really special occasion; it makes you proud to be British,” says Mr Clark, who was accompanied by his fiancée Nicky Ridley. “I love all this pomp and ceremony.”

During the garden party Mr Clark was introduced to the Queen and they shook hands.

Mr Clark, 53, said: “You’re not allowed to talk to her.

“If she wants to talk to you she will, but she didn’t.”

However, the previous time Tom had a close encounter with the monarch, she did want to talk – but only briefly.

“I met the Queen at the opening of the RNLI College in Poole in 2004,” Mr Clark recalls.

“It was hotter then than it is now, with the sun beating down, and we all had to wear ganseys and hats.”

Mr Clark and around 200 other coxswains and helmsmen from all over the UK and Ireland had been arranged by a photographer and were waiting for the Queen to come and stand at the front with them.

Mr Clark was in the middle of the first row, right behind the Queen, who asked him where he was from.

The garden party was the third time Mr Clark has been in close proximity with the Queen as was also at Scarborough’s open-air theatre when the Queen opened it in 2010.

Mr Clark, who in the day has worked as a builder, joined the lifeboat in 1983.

In 1997 he introduced crew training in Scarborough, well ahead of compulsory training.

To mark his 25 years service he received a medal and certificate at a surprise party from divisional inspector Andy Clift.