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QUEEN’S VISIT: Delighted factory workers welcome the royal couple

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The Queen made an emotional return to a Derbyshire knit work factory - and was greeted by delighted workers.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen, wearing a turquoise coat and hat and floral dress, arrived to large crowds who had gathered outside John Smedley in Lea Mills.

Tearful making up manager Brian Greaves, who met the Queen on her first visit to the factory in 1968 and is set to retire in four weeks, said: “It was a bit of an overwhelming occasion.

“She came the first year I started and has come back for my last year.”

The 62-year-old grandfather, from Shirland, is due to retire next month after 47 years of service.

He said: “She asked me about the process, how we put things together and how many pieces we made a day. She was amazed at the skills of the people here. She was extremely interested.”

He added: “It was very different from her first visit. Very low key. There wasn’t any security or building up to it.”

The Queen was given a tour of the factory and met some of the 400 staff who work at the firm, which is celebrating its 230th anniversary this year.

Children from Lea Primary School sang for the royal visitors and staff members took part in a short fashion show showcasing the firm’s collection for spring/summer 2015.

Head designer Philippa Jenkins, 26, of Pilsley, Chesterfield, who organised the fashion show, said: “It was a once in a life time experience. I’m never going to forget it. The Queen asked me about the collection. I thinks he enjoyed the show.”

At the end of the tour, designer Jacqueline Turner presented the Queen with a collection of polo shirts and sweaters for Prince George.

She said: “I feel very honoured.

“I explained the pieces were named after animals and she seemed really excited about that.”

The Queen, who is a known customer of John Smedley, also received a gift, which has not been disclosed, while the Duke looked thrilled to be presented with a midnight blue sweater.

 

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