Fraser McDonald, BB young person from East Calder shares his reflections from one very special day in London. He was one of four Scots to join a larger group of BB young people at this year’s Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance.
“Participating in the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance was a great experience and certainly one I will not forget. I flew down from Scotland on the Thursday evening, one of four boys representing the Brigade in Scotland. This, in itself, was a great honour for me. On Friday 8th November we all travelled into London together from the BB Headquarters in Hemel Hempstead where we were staying. We had a rehearsal on the Friday afternoon in the Royal Albert Hall in which we were allowed to get the feel of the event and practice our specific role in the Festival. The BB was providing the Guard of Honour for the Chelsea pensioners. We were briefed by the Garrison Sergeant Major as to what was expected of us. I had the task of leading our group out onto the arena to form the Guard – a particularly daunting task!
On the Saturday of the performance it was an early start – we had to pack in a dress rehearsal in the morning, a matinee in the afternoon and a performance in the evening. We met quite a few celebrities who were also performing in the festival. The queue outside Katie Melua’s dressing room for an autograph was particularly long!
During the performance we also got to participate in the Muster with the armed forces and civilian services. This was the most poignant part of the festival. The two minute silence in such a building as large as the Albert Hall was quite moving.
In the evening performance the Queen and other members of the Royal Family attended the performance. We were asked shortly before Her Majesty’s arrival to form a Guard of Honour alongside members of the various cadet organisations. This was unexpected and very exciting. We lined the red carpet outside the Albert Hall and stood for twenty minutes in the cold until the Queen arrived. It was worth the wait and we were all proud that the BB had the extra honour of providing the Guard of Honour to welcome the Queen to the festival.
Overall, partaking in the Festival of Remembrance was a fantastic experience, and quite probably, one that will not be replicated. It was nerve-racking to march out into the arena of the Albert Hall which was filled with thousands of people let alone the millions watching at home. However, all of the nerves were overridden by the excitement of being part of the Festival. Moreover the chance to see the work that goes in to the production of such an event was fascinating. It was a great privilege to represent the BB and to witness the Festival of Remembrance.