The Island is busily preparing to welcome 36 elite soldiers and their magnificent horses for the Royal Isle of Wight County Show. The countdown has begun until the Household Cavalry comes to town on Sunday 30 June as the ‘mane attraction’ for the long awaited celebration of rural life.
This wouldn’t be happening without generous support from partners, including the Island’s communication company, WightFibre. John Irvine, the Chief Executive, commented: “It’s absolutely brilliant having the Household Cavalry on the Island, it’s a real coup. And supporting this giant community event is a great way for us to give something back to the community, which is what we’re all about.”
To plan a few last details, the partners met up for a bit of horseplay at the Island Riding Centre at Newport. The soldiers and their horses will stay here before performing their world famous Musical Ride at the Northwood Showground. This is a display of military manoeuvres, set to music, and it’s breathtaking in its precision, with lots of pomp and pageantry. The Queen’s Household Cavalry are regulars at Trooping of the Colour, Royal weddings and coronations, and it’s their first time performing on the Isle of Wight.
Louise Buckner, owner of the Island Riding Centre, has a very special reason for hosting the soldiers and their horses on their visit to the Island – her grandfather was in the Household Cavalry in the 1940s. She says: “It’s a massive thing for us having the Queen’s horses and soldiers to stay and it’s great for the Island. We can’t wait! Plus so many friends have offered to ‘help’, so they’ll have the shiniest boots!”
Louise and her husband Paul are building two new stables, especially for the giant horses that carry the huge silver drums. They’ve commissioned Martin Coombes from M&J Animal Housing, who says: “it’s a huge honour to build stables for the Queen”. The stables will have crowns on the top as a tribute to their VIP guests.
The Cavalry – who rotate active service with ceremonial duties – will be transported 100 miles from London to the Island in a coach provided by Seaview Services. Phil Robinson, Chairman of Seaview Services, says: “We’ve moved the Polish Army, the Royal Green Jackets, and lots of sailors including Sir Ben Ainslie. We like to do things properly. We’ll also be bringing over the giant silver drums, if they’ll fit in the coach!”
Mary Robinson, Secretary of Seaview Services, who has been a regular at the County Show all her life, says: “It’s always a lovely day out, and I saw the Household Cavalry at the Lord Mayor’s Parade in London and it made feel proud to be British. We’ll be bringing as many people as we can!”
At the Show, the soldiers will be served lunch in the WI Tent. Hazel Breach, Federal Treasurer of the Isle of Wight Women’s Institute, confirmed that the menu would include a ploughman’s lunch with a selection of cheeses, pate and ham. “And because we’re the WI there will be plenty of cake, from the traditional Victoria sponge to more exotic lime and coconut,” she revealed. “We’re really looking forward to welcoming these lovely young men and intend to spoil them.”
In fact, she confided, her members are so keen to meet the servicemen, that they’ve all volunteered to cater for the lads. “The ladies at the WI are having duals at dawn to decide who’s going to be serving them!” she joked. “I’m chairman of the catering committee, so I’m top of the list! Some of the WI members are even offering their spare bedrooms and saying the horses can stay in the garden!”
Graham Biss, Chairman of the Show, commented: “It has only been possible to bring the Household Cavalry to the Island due to the support from our partners including Wightlink who are bringing the troop across the Solent. This is going to be the event of the summer. As well as the Cavalry, there’s so much else to see and do, from tractor rides, to clay pigeon shooting and handling a pig. Plus you can get up close to loads of amazing animals. We’ll see you there!”