Royal Navy personnel speak of their 'pride' as they prepare to join televised Remembrance Sunday event at Cenotaph in London

ALMOST 200 sailors and marines from across the Royal Navy have been carrying out final full dress parade rehearsals ahead of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

By Tom Cotterill
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 2:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 6:41 pm
The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth
Picture: Chris Moorhouse   (jpns 101121-14)
The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-14)

The Royal Navy’s ceremonial guard put the final touches to its preparations at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth ahead of taking part in the Royal Ceremonial Guard at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday.

They will also be appearing at the Royal Albert Hall RBL Festival of Remembrance and The Lord Mayor’s Show in central London.

The sailors, who include representatives from across the ships and units of the Royal Navy as well as the Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Queen Alexandra Royal Naval Nursing Service, have been training for almost three weeks for the service.

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The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-29)

Among them is Lieutenant Nicki Whitehead, 33, who is a critical care nurse with the Joint Hospital Group South at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

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She said being part of the parade would be a massive moment, having served on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic for the past 18 months.

‘This is a real honour for me,’ she said. ‘It’s really special and something that we very rarely get the opportunity to do, particularly as nurses.

The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-27)

‘Coronavirus has been really tough on all of us, but particularly those in healthcare. The naval nursing service is fully embedded alongside our NHS colleagues, so we have been standing by them throughout the pandemic.

‘It’s taken its toll so it makes it even more special to be able to represent the navy at Remembrance.’

More than 160 personnel will form the overall naval contingent, which is set to travel to London tomorrow to begin full rehearsals with the British Army and RAF.

Lieutenant Commander Michael Quinn is the First Officer in the ceremonial guard. Speaking of his role in the parade, the 36-year-old submariner told The News: ‘This has got to be one of the proudest moments of my career.

Leading Hand Ian Lacey. The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-31)

‘My grandad was in the Royal Navy during the war. My great-grandfather sadly died while serving with the Merchant Navy at Scapa Flow in 1918 when his ship was torpedoed.

‘So this is a really poignant event for me and I’m really proud to be in charge of the Royal Navy on the day. It’s definitely up there as one of the proudest moments of my 11-year career.’

One of the youngest taking part is Able Seaman Kyle Mclellan, having only just completed his phase two training at HMS Collingwood in Fareham.

The 19-year-old, now based at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth, is set to follow in the footsteps of his step dad, Petty Officer Carl Stannard, who took part in the Remembrance parade at the Cenotaph in 2017.

The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-15)

AB Mclellan said: ‘This is a big achievement for me because I have literally just finished my phase two training. So to be thrown in the deep end, representing the whole of the Royal Navy on such a momentous occasion, is very nerve-wracking and exciting.

‘The training has been tough but enjoyable because you know at the end of it, the sense of pride you will have, standing at the Cenotaph in front of the whole nation, will be unforgettable.’

Warrant Officer 1 Eddie Wearing has returned once again as the state ceremonial training officer, in his sixth time preparing the naval contingent for their Remembrance duties.

The 46-year-old of Gosport said: ‘Out of everything that I do within my role, this is to me the most important and the most special. It definitely doesn’t lose its edge. It’s just as important every year.’

He added training had been ‘arduous’ and said the parade would be both physically and mentally demanding

‘It’s very difficult, anyone that hasn’t done it and sit there watching on the television thinking it’s easy, I would invite them to give it a go because it’s a very difficult thing to do,’ he added.

The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-21)

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The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-25)
The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-24)
The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-19)
The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-26)
Lt Nicki Whitehead of QARNNS. The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-32)
Royal Marines. The Royal Navy's Ceremonial Guard in their final rehearsal for their duties at the Cenotaph in London, on Remembrance Sunday. They were photographed at Whale Island, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 101121-23)