THE rector of Ballymore Parish Church in Tandragee is developing quite an affinity for the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year.
First, the Rev Shane Forster was lucky enough to win a BBC online competition for a pair of tickets to the Queen’s Buckingham Palace picnic and Diamond Jubilee concert in London earlier this month.
As if that wasn’t enough on Tuesday the Rev Forster, in his role as senior chaplain to the Archbishop of Armagh, played a significant role in thanksgiving services held in Enniskillen as part of Her Majesty’s two-day visit to Northern Ireland.
Mr Forster stood close to the Queen in St Macartin’s Cathedral as the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Alan Harper, gave his thanksgiving service.
He was also present as the Queen made a groundbreaking and historic first visit to a Catholic church in either Northern Ireland or the Republic.
“I was in the porch of the Cathedral when the Archbishop welcomed the Queen, in the procession and also in attendance at the reception in St Michael’s Church. The Queen was radiant, relaxed and seemed genuinely pleased to be there. There was a great sense of joy and celebration in the Cathedral, St Michael’s and amongst the crowds who lined the streets of Enniskillen.
“It was just a really lovely day. The Queens was looking radiant and really relaxed. Everyone was really pleased to her. The crowds were fantastic and it was wonderful to be part of it.”
Mr Forster, who played a key role in last week’s events in Tandragee for the Jubilee, also recalled the privileged feeling he experienced when he and wife Kathleen attended the Diamond Jubilee picnic and concert at Buckingham Palace.
“I had seen the advert on the BBC website that you could apply for tickets for the Diamond Jubilee Concert but only got round to sending in my application the night before the closing date.
“I had never been in the grounds of the palace before, and there was a massive crowd for the picnic and then the concert. The picnic itself was lovely and then the atmosphere for the concert was amazing. It was nice to be there on such a memorable occasion, it’s one to say that ‘I was there’ in years to come.
“The most memorable part was the light show projected on to the front of the Palace and the fireworks.”