While sifting through a lifetime’s photos Hellesdon granddad Derek Cate realised he had quite a few with a royal connection.
Derek, 78, his late wife Marjorie , his sister Sylvia and brother-in-law Peter shared a deep admiration for the Queen, and all-things royal have been an important part of their lives.
In a moment of inspiration, Derek decided to compile all his royal photos and memories into a folder and send a copy to Her Majesty, along with a separate folder containing a royal quiz he uses at a variety of functions.
And he was thrilled when he received a letter from Buckingham Palace, thanking him for his gift. Written by a Lady-in-Waiting, the letter said the Queen was glad to know of Derek’s happy memories of sharing events with his family and included the sentence: “I think you would like to know that the Queen was deeply moved by the time and trouble you have taken to create both these folders and very touched you have sent her this gift.”
Derek said: “Before I opened it I thought it was just going to be one of those standard letters but I shed a few tears when I read it. It was a lovely letter.” He has since made more than 20 copies of the folder and given them to recipients ranging from royal residences Sandringham, in Norfolk, and Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, to friends who take them along to share royal memories when visiting elderly people. “It’s good to think that they give so much pleasure,” said Derek, who vividly remembers standing in Trafalgar Square, aged 14, to watch the Queen’s coronation in June 1953, along with 35,000 others.
To mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, in 1977, Marjorie made copies of the coronation regalia. She died in 2009 but Derek decided to use the surviving crown from her collection and made it the centrepiece of his own recreation of the regalia, marking the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee, in 2012.
Among his pieces was the orb, made from a spray-painted football, and a golden eagle “ampulla”. Derek transformed a wooden duck statue into an eagle, using moulding clay.
His finished display, which included a lifesize cardboard cut-out of the Queen and two toy corgis bought from the gift shop at Sandringham, toured care homes and schools during jubilee year. On one occasion, during a family trip to Glamis Castle, a woman came towards the group as they were drinking tea in the grounds.
It was the Countess of Strathmore, whose home they had been visiting. She began chatting to the group and Derek has also sent her a folder, receiving a hand-written thank-you letter in reply.
Derek and his wife moved to Norfolk from Gillingham, Kent, in the 1960s after Derek’s National Service at RAF Watton. They had three children and Marjorie also worked as a childminder, Sunday School and playgroup leader.
The couple, committed Christians, also fostered or cared for several children over the years. A keen tennis player, Derek played in the Norwich City League for 30 years. He worked in sales in the hydraulic hoses industry.
He said: “The Queen always seems to be so gracious. She’s had sad times in her life but she’s always very strong and she has a strong faith, which impresses me. “I like the pomp and pageantry of royalty. It’s just magic to me. I don’t think any other country in the world can match us for the wonder of it.”
Derek with a cardboard cut-out of the Queen at one of his displays