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Margaret Blackmore's recollections over 90 years

The Queen and I
Margaret Blackmore read this to a special service at St Andrew's Church, Clayhidon
to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday on 12 June 2016

A Reflection On 90 Years 

The Queen and I had our 90th birthdays in April. She was born in London; I was born on the farm at Palmers.  In those days it was customary for babies in Clayhidon to be born at home.
I started at Clayhidon School when I was five, in 1931. The Queen was educated at home; she had a governess, Miss Crawford.
I walked, quite safely, to and fro, for there were few cars in. Clayhidon then. (My father had a car at the time). The roads were paved. Postman Hannaford collected mail from the boxes, riding on his bicycle. We knew if he had been by because we could smell the strong tobacco that he smoked.
In about 1936 there was an air show in Exeter and Father took us all. The aeroplanes taking off fascinated me. Mother longed to take a flight, but she looked at her three children., “Just suppose” she said sadly.
About then we had a telephone installed. It was much used in the war because the War Agricultural Committee lent farmers machinery and the depot was at Palmers. My brother did the organising.
Previous to that, everyone had used horses for farm work. They still pulled the wagons for haymaking, but machinery for tilling needed a tractor so gradually they were being bought.
I remember my Father asking about the weather forecasts on the wireless,  as it was called then,  for fine weather was vital for haymaking. Silage making had not been invented then (it can be made without having to be dried).
By 1944 I was 18 and getting ready to go to Teachers’ Training College in Bristol.
The Queen was in the army, and was taught to drive a car by Miss Wellesley, whose home was in Churchstanton.
In 1947, she was married, and also in 1947 The National Health Service came into being and treatment for illness was free.
In 1960, our school was closed, but due to several Parish Councillors, led by Mr Billy Bendle, the building was bought so that it could be used as our Parish Hall.
About that time we had mains water, so we had a bathroom at Palmers.
In 1952, the King died, the Queen was proclaimed Elizabeth II and in 1953 she was crowned. I remember reading about a new invention - a hairspray that was used on the Queen’s hair that day to keep it tidy under her crown.
With several others I was invited to Gollick on the day to watch the service on the television. That was new and very exciting (we didn’t have a set then at Palmers).
In 1954, we had electricity on the farm. (I wished that in my teens in the war it had come, I had had to do my homework by light of five candles).
I am not sure when the Post Office in Clayhidon was closed, but mail was then delivered by a postman in a red van.
In 1954, I was working in Kent, and I went to see the trooping of the colour, especially because the Queen was about to set off on one of her Commonwealth tours. I saw her ride by in the Mall.
There are I think nine farms left in Clayhidon now. Machinery is so expensive and profits, particularly from milk, are low.
Now with television, the Internet and Skype, communication across the world is instant and easy. We all drive cars, unthinkable at the beginning of the Queen’s reign.
She has seen much sadness in her family, and the great fire at Windsor Castle upset her greatly. With the Duke of Edinburgh, she worked out ways of raising money for the restoration by opening the Palace on set days.
Here in Clayhidon we have seen several ministers in the church who have cared for us. Margaret Cameron was the first woman minister in Devon and the Bishop of Exeter inducted her.  I was a Church Warden then, only the second woman to be given the post on Clayhidon.
In 2000, for the millennium, we shared service with the Rosemary Lane Chapel, and we have done so yearly since, and we all give you a very warm welcome today.
I retired in 1984, but the Queen’s work goes on every day, and she works untiringly - 64 years this year. What a record!
We are blessed to have such a special Queen.

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