Navy gears up for top roles in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations

121812_COLLINGWOOD_MP_24/5/12''Royal Navy personnel practice their ceremonial drills at HMS Collingwood ahead of the Diamond Jubilee weekend of celebrations. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (121812-853)

121812_COLLINGWOOD_MP_24/5/12''Royal Navy personnel practice their ceremonial drills at HMS Collingwood ahead of the Diamond Jubilee weekend of celebrations. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (121812-853)

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THE Royal Navy is getting ready for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Hundreds of sailors are being put through their paces at HMS Collingwood ahead of two major Jubilee events in London next month.

An honour guard of naval reservists will meet the Queen when she disembarks the Royal Barge at HMS President, St Katherine’s Dock, following the 1,000-boat Thames River Pageant on June 3.

And hundreds of sailors will line the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral and the streets of Parliament Square to Whitehall for the Jubilee Thanksgiving service on June 5.

Self-employed computer programmer Stuart Harland, 29, of Denmead, who joined Portsmouth’s naval reserves unit HMS King Alfred three years ago, said: ‘I can’t wait for the River Pageant. It’s not exactly something that you get to do very often.

‘It’s unlikely I’ll see another Diamond Jubilee in my lifetime and I definitely won’t be still serving then.’

The reservists are being whipped into shape by the navy’s state ceremonial training officer, Warrant Officer Paul ‘Ronnie’ Barker.

He said: ‘They are heading in the right direction. I wouldn’t say they are 100 per cent yet but they’ll get there.

‘We’re pushing them hard but we don’t want them to peak too early.’

Regular personnel have been rehearsing their formations, rifle drills and marching for the past month leading up to the celebrations.

Able Seaman Hayley Shakeshaft, 27, of Gosport, who serves in HMS Illustrious as a communications specialist, said: ‘I’m proud because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s something I’ll never get a chance to do again and when my one-year-old daughter Layla grows up I will tell her all about and say “I was there”.’

Lieutenant Nick Horne, 29, of Portsmouth, also serves in HMS Illustrious.

He said: ‘I’m massively looking forward to it – all the lads are. It’s good to get out in our naval uniform and show the public who we are.’

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