Locals enjoy partying at the palace

Stephen and Lisa Bailie of Bailies Auto Refinishers in Newtownabbey pictured at the star-studded Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace on Monday, June 4. INNT 23-220-CON
Stephen and Lisa Bailie of Bailies Auto Refinishers in Newtownabbey pictured at the star-studded Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace on Monday, June 4. INNT 23-220-CON

THREE lucky locals were among the crowd of thousands who enjoyed the star-studded Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace on Monday night (June 4).

Gary Johnston from Mossley, and local business owners Stephen and Lisa Bailie were among the audience of 20,000 lucky ticket holders who got up close to the amazing line-up of rock and pop royalty which took to the stage to celebrate the 60-year reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

As The Queen and other members of the Royal family watched from the Royal Box, an estimated 250,000 people gathered along The Mall and in St James’s Park and Hyde Park to join in the celebrations, while many millions across the globe watched the concert on television.

Gary was one of 5,000 people from across the UK who won ‘Diamond Tickets’ to the Jubilee Picnic in the grounds of the palace by entering an online ballot on the BBC’s website. His prize also ensured him a fantastic seat for the Jubilee Concert, which featured top musical acts such as Robbie Williams, JLS, Kylie Minogue, Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney, and finished with a spectacular fireworks display over Buckingham Palace.

The 22-year-old SPAR employee, whose travel companion was forced to pull out of the once-in-a-lifetime trip at the last minute, jetted off to London on Sunday afternoon and stayed with family in the capital before travelling to Buckingham Palace on Monday where he joined thousands of others in the gardens for a five-course Jubilee Picnic created by top chef Heston Blumenthal. The picnic hamper, which Gary brought home with him as a memento of his trip, contained a feast of fine foods, including a chilled soup, tea-smoked Scottish salmon, Diamond Jubilee Chicken, a Chocolate Indulgence Cake and a selection of English cheeses.

That evening, from his seat just yards from the stunning stage built around the Queen Victoria Memorial, the former Newtownabbey Youth Council member was able to soak up the party atmosphere and capture the event on the camera on his mobile phone.

Speaking to the Times on his return to Northern Ireland on Tuesday (June 5), Gary said the party at the palace had been an amazing experience.

“It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” he said. “The concert was amazing, it was so well organised, and the fireworks display was absolutely spectacular.”

The former Ballyclare Secondary School pupil said the highlights of the concert were the performance by Madness on the roof of the palace, during which the historic building was lit up with a colourful light projection display, and the final act of the night, Sir Paul McCartney.

“Everyone singing along to Delilah with Tom Jones and waving their flags was also amazing, and all the comedians were really good as well. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it was definitely worth making the trip over for.”

Stephen and Lisa Bailie, who own Bailies Auto Refinishers at the Valley Business Centre, were also at Monday’s concert after Lisa received tickets as an acknowledgment of her vital work as a Business Mentor with the Prince’s Trust charity which was founded by HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.

Lisa’s role as Business Mentor is to guide and help young people develop their businesses, while at the same time building their confidence and skills.

Lisa and her husband Stephen were delighted to have been given the opportunity to attend the historic Diamond Jubilee Concert, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“The sun eventually came out for what was to be a star-studded event,” said Lisa afterwards.

“The atmosphere was electric and the highlights for us were Madness playing on the roof of Buckingham Palace, Sir Paul McCartney’s performance, and Prince Charles’ speech to his ‘Mummy’. It was also a great honour to sing our national anthem in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. It’s not every day you get to sing ‘God Save The Queen’ to the Queen herself!”

Don’t miss extensive coverage of the borough’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in this week’s Times...