Largs man Ron Hempseed has an interesting royal story to tell as he was one of the special trumpeters for the Queen during her Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977, and took part in many royal visits in the UK, and even Washington D.C.
Ron, enlisted in the Band of the Royal Horse Guards (Blues) straight from school in Glasgow, as a French Horn player. After basic training at Bovington in Dorset, he joined his Regiment in London's Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London.
Once with the band, he realised that the State Trumpeters were drawn from the same group, so was soon learning fanfares to tour with Musical Rides, Quadrilles and playing at the Guildhall, Mansion House or top London Hotels, for various functions.
Ron, who served in the Household Cavalry for 12 years, said: "It is amazing to look back upon - there are not many of us about who had this opportunity. I was already a musician for the school brass band and rode horses at Inverclyde stables and just applied. I was absolutely thrilled to pass the audition and go on to play an important part in proceedings for many Royal events including during the Queen's Silver Jubilee."
Ron recalled: "The Queen's Silver Jubilee year 1977 was, as you would expect extremely busy for the Household Cavalry Regiment Mounted.
"It was decided to take four Divisions of the Sovereign's Escort around Britain with the Monarch, so for the first time in history, they escorted the Queen through the centres of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff.
"In Edinburgh the Regiment was stabled in Redford Barracks and in Glasgow it was the old Granary next to the Clydeside Expressway, which proved to be a very cold billet, prompting some to don their Great Coats and sleep in the temporary stable next to their horses.
"On the day, Tuesday 17 May by 10:20am, the Sovereign's Escort of the Household Cavalry were formed up on the Carriageway inside Glasgow Central Station facing no.11 Platform. Among the group ready to greet the Queen's arrival on Platform 11 were the Lord Lyon King of Arms, Lord and Lady Provost of Glasgow and the Secretary of State for Scotland."
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh's arrival was met with a Royal Salute from the Escort and Trumpeter, prior to the carriage procession leaving Central Station, accompanied by the Sovereign's Escort of the household cavalry, for Glasgow Cathedral. At the conclusion of the Service the Carriage Procession, accompanied by the Sovereign's Escort left Glasgow Cathedral for George Square, where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, conducted by the Lord-Lieutenant and Lady Provost, walked through the Square to the City Chambers.
The billet in Cardiff was quite central and as the Cavalry had open days with food etc for the locals at each venue, central Cardiff ground to a halt as visitors turned up in their thousands. making the front page of the national papers.
The London Celebration took place on Tuesday 7 June 1977 and the Household Cavalry Regiment provided a Sovereign's Escort plus two Captain's Escorts, so almost every horse was on Parade.
The Escort was from Buckingham Palace to St.Paul's Cathedral, with the full Procession Route lined by the Armed Forces and a Triple Guard of Honour founded by the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and the Queen's Company of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards each with their Colour and a Band of the Royal Marines. On conclusion of the Service of Thanksgiving in St. Paul's the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh walked to the Guildhall for the official Luncheon hosted by the Lord Mayor.
Ron said: "I remember eventually arriving home to Stanwell Moor, just West of Heathrow Airport, where the whole Village were having a Street Party to Celebrate.
Apart from the Silver Jubilee Escorts, 1977 included all the standard parades, Major General's Inspection, Trooping of the Colour plus two Reviews, Garter Ceremony, Two State Visits, the State Opening of Parliament, Lord Mayor's Parade, Horse of the Year Show, The Berlin Tattoo segue into The Berlin Horse Show, plus the daily mounting of the Queen's Life Guards at Horse Guards Parade."
Ron even got an opportunity to travel across the pond for The American Bi-Centennial Year which was celebrated by Britain with the visit of the Scottish Military Tattoo at Wolf Trap, Farm Park, Washington. This was a precursor to the later Edinburgh Tattoo as it took place in July. There were eight State Trumpeters on the Tattoo.
Ron remembered how he avoided the hottest summer on record in the UK in 1976: "We were all billeted at the US Marines Barracks, Quantico and while Britain was sweltering in temperature up to 100 degrees, Washington never got above 75 degrees, lucky white heather! The Tattoo was sold out well in advance, with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, President Gerald Ford and the first lady attending a matinee performance, followed by a reception at the British Embassy.
After the Finale, the State Trumpeters were rushed to the Embassy in time to perform a Fanfare for the parties arrival, this was treated with disbelief by the Duke, who had left the stadium whilst we were still on the stage! He said - you can't be the same people I had just seen at the Tattoo! You can't possibly have come here!"
Ron is married to Patricia and has a daughter Emma and a son Jamie, and his sister is Linda Maxwell. He lives in Irvine Road in Largs, and worked at IBM for 25 years after finishing as a state trumpeter before retiring. He is now an active member of the Probus club in Largs, and has written a history of Largs Bowling Club where he is a prominent member, or you may be driven by him in a Brisbane Taxi, Monday or Friday.
Looking back, Ron concluded: "These events were full of grandeur. I remember the adrenaline rush when I took part in my first Trooping the Colour, the pageantry, the crowds and the noise, but like anything else in life it eventually becomes the norm. However, I loved every minute of it - it was a fantastic job."