Westside residents recall memories of Queen’s Coronation

John and Heather Raybould, and Carl Zanon recall their memories of the Queen's Coronation 60 years ago, when they were teenagers in London.

John and Heather Raybould stand in front of their display of photos of the Coronation's Crown Jewels and Regalia in the Westbank Library May 18.

The average West Kelowna resident might not be aware this Sunday marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in Westminister Abbey.

But West Kelowna residents John and Heather Raybould and Carl Zanon have had the date circled on their calendars for some time.

The Rayboulds and Zanon recently gave a presentation at the Westbank Library to share their memories and show some of the memorabilia collected from the Coronation 60 years ago.

According to John, all three were teenagers in London in 1953.

Zanon was a Royal Canadian Navy Sea Cadet chosen to represent Canada at the Coronation; Heather, born in south London, was a member of the Girls’ Life Brigade and was one of many chosen to represent the GLB at the historic event; John was a Londoner who attended high school five minutes from Westminister Abbey.

“After all the years of austerity in Great Britain that had continued long after the Second World War, Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation was a great morale booster,” said Heather.

She added she remembers when “the volume of cheering rose to a crescendo” as the Queen and Prince Philip came through the gates of Buckingham Palace in the Golden State Coach.

John said his father, who ran a florist and gardener’s shop in London’s Kensington district, had decorated the front of the shop in celebration of the event.

“It was a feeling of excitement,” said John.

“It was something none of us had ever experienced—the last Coronation was 1937.”

During their presentation at the Westbank Library, John and Heather handed out View-Masters so audience members could see 3D images of the Coronation.

“We passed them around while Heather was talking about Coronation Day—it was very effective,” said John.

He added the excitement in 1953 could be compared to the feeling many British Columbians had during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.