Town & Country News, December, 2000

Queen's Honour For Late Gerald

July was to have been the highlight of the Millennium year for Gerald Thirst, who was due to travel to Buckingham Palace to receive the MBE., conferred on him in the Queen's New Year's Honours list for a lifetime's service to the Stalham Brass Band and Music in Norfolk.
Sadly, Gerald died suddenly in April, before he could receive his medal, but on Tuesday 31st October, Gerald's family - his widow Yvonne, son Tim and two year old grandson Robert - travelled to Buckingham Palace to receive the medal on his behalf. Robert has brass bands in his blood (his father Tim is the Musical Director of the Stalham Band, which is East Anglia's oldest band), and he likes to 'conduct' any band he hears, as well as 'accompanying' them on his cornet. He calls them "toot toots" and they feature among his favourite things. The visit to the Palace to receive 'Grandad Toot Toot's' medal was therefore very exciting for Robert as the Grenadier Guards band were playing for the changing of the guard ceremony, and the Band of the Irish Guards were playing in the ballroom where the main Investiture was being held.
The private ceremony for Gerald's family was held in an adjacent room, and when the Irish guards Band struck up just before 11 o'clock young Robert thought that listening to them was much preferable to waiting for the Queen. Luckily, a few quiet words of persuasion from his dad and the promise of seeing the band after the Queen were enough to calm him down before the door opened and in came Her Majesty. The Lord Chamberlain, The Right Honourable The Lord Luce, GCVO, read out the citation for Gerald's awards and introduced the family to the Queen, who then took the Decoration from a velvet cushion held by the Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood and presented it to Mrs. Yvonne Thirst, after which they chatted about Gerald's achievements and the current activities of the Stalham Band. Although the Queen cannot attend all the Investitures she said that she was particularly pleased that she was able to carry out this presentation for herself.
Meanwhile, the Irish Guards band could still be overheard in the next room, and Robert, deciding he had been quiet for long enough, told the Queen forthrightly that he wanted to "listen to Toot Toots NOW!" She laughed and told him that he would be able to in a minute, and then left to hold the main Investiture, giving Robert the opportunity to listen to the Irish Guards Band and the Grenadier Guards Band, the REAL highlight of his day!

Outside Buckingham Palace are pictured (L to R) Tricia Thirst, young Robert, Yvonne Thirst and Dr Tim Thirst

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