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Tribute to the Queen - “I was there”

“I was there.”

Ada McCallum was chosen to attend there Queen’s Coronation in 1953. She was responding to the recent articles on Remembering The Queen ‘in The Informer.

This black and white photo was taken on the eve of her departure by train to attend the coronation. Ada is holding the flag. She is very matter fact about her being chosen. “I grew up in England and belonged to the mid Sussex Girls Guide. I was a Land Ranger and the Guide Commissioners knew I was quite used to catching trains to London. I could get a workman’s pass, which was the cheapest, by travelling at a certain time. Other girls didn’t do that, but I did. I think that’s the reason I was chosen. At the time I was 18 and I remember thinking that the Queen looked so young and fresh. She was just 26. I remember seeing Queen Salote of Tonga who was looking after the young Japanese Crown Prince Akihito of Japan for the coronation ceremony.

Ada came to visit on her red electric scooter and as she left, she held up her walking stick.

“This has a story,” Ada said, indicating to stick. “Winston Churchill said to all of Britain during the war, that we had to dig for victory. Everyone grew Brussel sprouts, because we all took what Mr Churchill said very seriously. My father had hurt his leg and he made this walking stick from the stem of a Brussel sprout in our garden. I have it with me every day.”

Ada’s desire to lead and serve her community never left her. Ada has had a full life here in New Zealand.

She received the Queen's Service Medal for services to the community. She advocated for better policies and services for senior citizens in this area. Ada volunteered as a community co-ordinator and worked on positive ageing strategy for the Thames-Coromandel District Council. While a resident in Te Aroha, she was a mediator for the health consumer service with the Waikato District Health Bord and her in Whitianga, she was Secretary and vice Chair of the Whitianga Ratepayers’ Association.

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