Excitement builds as Valentines Park opens and crowds gather for Queen’s Ilford visit

The gates have been unlocked and people are making their way into Valentines Park to get the best view they can of the Queen as she marks 60 years on the throne with a historic visit to Ilford.

Her Majesty will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh as the royal couple are driven into Valentines Park at around 10.25am.

Thousands of flag-waving people are expected to have filled the park by the time the royal couple arrive.

Stewards are directing people and every entrance to the park is open, except the one in Emerson Road.

Two big screens close to Valentines Mansion will beam pictures of the Queen and the Duke to the crowds.

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People are being advised to walk or use public transport to get to the park, and to arrive there by no later than 9.30am.

About 1,500 schoolchildren are expected to help welcome the queen, while Cadets from two Woodford Green schools, scouting groups, Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades and musicians will play a key part in the official ceremony marking the Queen’s visit.

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Bancroft’s School, High Road, and St Aubyn’s School, Bunces Lane, are sending their well-drilled cadets to line a route next to the lower lake in the park.

They will stand to attention and a standard bearer from each school will raise or half-lower a flag, depending on protocol, as the Queen passes.

Artwork within the grounds of Valentines Mansion worth an estimated �250million will be viewed by the royal couple as part of their Diamond Jubilee tour before the exhibition, called London Pride, is opened to the public as part of a four-day festival.

Volunteers working in the park today are decked out in jumpers emblazoned with corgis, the Queen’s dog of choice, thanks to uniforms provided by clothing company Joules.

Meanwhile, businesses in Beehive Lane, Gants Hill have got into the spirit be decking out their shops in Union Jacks.

Tariq Javed, 49, owner of Big Portion chicken shop, said: “I put the flags up because the Queen is coming and we love her. She’s been a very graceful head of state.

“I feel like she’s coming to our home as I live very close to the park and we can see where she will be from my house.”

Luigi Meola, 50, of Luigi’s Restaurant, said: “Although we are from Italy I have lived here for 30 years and I am patriotic.

“The Queen visiting is something that’s never happened before, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Queen on our doorstep.

“We have invited her here for tea, but we don’t know if she will come!

“We’re going to have a special menu on the day with live music and we have a toastmaster who will be all dressed in red who will give a toast to the queen.”

A live blog, which you can view by scrolling to the bottom of this page, will post reaction, news and pictures during the morning and throughout the rest of the day.

If you would like to share a story with us about the Queen’s visit, tweet us @ilfordrecorder, email newsdesk@ilfordrecorder.co.uk or call 020 8477 3800.

You can also upload pictures of the visit to london.iwitness24.co.uk.

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