BAFTA-winning Telford soldier playing a main role in Queen's Platinum Jubilee

A Telford soldier, who has played a leading role in preparations for the Platinum Jubilee, says this week's celebrations mark the 'biggest year' in his distinguished career.

Garrison Sergeant Major WO1 Vern Stokes makes his way down to Houses of Parliament. Picture: MoD Crown
Garrison Sergeant Major WO1 Vern Stokes makes his way down to Houses of Parliament. Picture: MoD Crown

Garrison Sergeant Major Andrew ‘Vern’ Stokes is behind much of the ceremonial splendour that will accompany the events to mark Her Majesty The Queen's 70 years on the throne.

He is in charge of planning Queen's Birthday Parade and said: "It’s incredible. No other monarch has had four jubilees. Queen Victoria had two. The country may never see the likes of this again.

"The nation will be celebrating wherever they are and London will be bursting at the seams.

“It really is going to be special and the celebrations mark an incredible achievement by Her Majesty. What an example she is. If you reflect back to the worst of the pandemic, whenever we saw The Queen, she said exactly the right thing.

“She spoke those famous words of Dame Vera Lynn ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and that spurred on the country at a time when it was needed. We had that bit of guidance and assurance from the Head of State. She says the right thing at the right time and always leads by example, which is incredible.”

As preparations for the Trooping of the Colour are close to completion, GSM Stokes, who grew up in Madeley, added: “It is a big day in the calendar. I think there is more pressure because it is the start of such a significant week.

“We need to set the right tone. We are aiming for excellence and hoping the public will get involved and feel there are moments in the Jubilee celebrations for them.”

This week's events will be the culmination of an incredible time for GSM Stokes, who lives in Coalbrookdale.

Last month, he collected a BAFTA at the TV Craft Awards, celebrating the very best behind-the-scenes television talent of 2021. He joined Nigel Catmur, Andy Deacon, Patrick Doherty, Kevin Duff and Simon Haw to collect the award for Entertainment Craft Team for The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance.

“It’s not something you expect to achieve when you are a soldier,” he admitted. “It was nice as the military organiser and choreographer to get noticed for the festival.

"The Festival of Remembrance is my favourite event because of what it means to everybody and all the people taking part – the bereaved families, and those people identified as doing something brave or important during that year. It’s really nice to be able to bring it together and showcase it for the public.”

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