Soldier leading Queen’s burial procession will run London Marathon this weekend

Soldier leading Queen’s burial procession will run London Marathon this weekend

This weekend, the soldier in command of all military and ceremonial components of the Queen’s state burial will run the London Marathon in running gear instead of a redcoat.

General Sergeant Major Andrew 'Vern' Stokes pictured leading the Royal family as they walked behind the Queen's coffin as it was carried on a horse-drawn gun carriage from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall
Garrison Sergeant Major (GSM) Andrew ‘Vern’ Stokes of the Coldstream Guards was watched by the entire globe as he marched along The Mall for a last inspection before to the 4,000-strong military parade on Monday.

He desired to walk the route one last time to confirm that everything was in place, from the flags to the barricades, as well as the presence of medics and police officials.

General Sergeant Major Andrew ‘Vern’ Stokes was shown leading the Royal family as they followed the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall in a horse-drawn gun carriage.

This Sunday, GSM Stokes (pictured) will run the London Marathon to raise money for Tickets for Troops.GSM Stokes (pictured) is running the London Marathon this Sunday and raising money for Tickets for Troops

On Monday, September 19, GSM Stokes was in charge of organizing the military and ceremonial festivities for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in both London and Windsor, where an additional 1,000 army men participated.

A few days earlier, he led members of the Royal family as they followed the Queen’s coffin as it traveled from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall in a Gun Carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

This Sunday, he will return to The Mall on the final loop of the 26.2-mile London marathon course, which runs through the city’s streets from Greenwich to Woolwich and back.GSM Stokes pictured with Her Majesty during a military parade held to mark the Queen's official birthday on June 12 last year

GSM Stokes, who is raising money for charity, talked of his ‘great delight’ for his role in organizing the Queen’s funeral, which he claimed had helped ‘spark newfound patriotism’ across the United Kingdom.

It is evident that Her Majesty’s funeral and the ceremonies surrounding it galvanized the nation, he stated.

Since the Queen’s burial, GSM Stokes from Shropshire has received tens of thousands of notes of gratitude from individuals.

GSM Stokes (pictured in red military uniform) said he felt 'intense pride' for everyone who took part in the Queen's funeral procession

‘These remarks give me the impression that the Armed Forces went above and beyond what was expected, something they are accustomed to doing on a daily basis, but not necessarily in the public glare on the international stage,’ he said.

“I am relieved that all of my colleagues’ and my years of careful planning resulted in such a successful farewell for Her Majesty.

“It was a grueling 12-day schedule of activities that required briefings, recces, and rehearsals.

“I feel intense pride for all those who participated and worked so tirelessly throughout, as well as thankfulness that the nation paused for hours on Monday to reflect on the Queen’s life. An extraordinary day.

GSM Stokes was seen with Her Majesty during a military parade held on June 12 of last year to celebrate the Queen’s official birthday.

GSM On Monday, the world was watching Stokes as he marched down The Mall for a final inspection before the 4,000-strong military parade.

GSM Stokes (shown in red uniform) expressed “great pride” for everybody who participated in the Queen’s burial procession.

This weekend, GSM Stokes is “looking forward” to completing the London Marathon and raising thousands of pounds for Tickets for Troops, a charity that distributes free tickets to members of the Armed Forces for sports, musical, and cultural events.

Since its inception in 2009, Tickets for Troops has donated 1.8 million tickets to help army members “create memories and spend quality time with loved ones while not on deployment.”

GSM Stokes stated that he began marathon training 14 weeks ago, but the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on September 8 at her home in Balmoral at the age of 96, meant it had to be put on hold.

He continued, “Unfortunately, Her Majesty’s passing halted all training for the duration.”

“Because I played a central role in all the 12-day activities in London and Windsor, there was simply no time for training, and I’m now in the unfortunate position of having missed four weeks of training.”

I know what to expect, what pace to run at, and what to expect when I reach the inevitable wall because I ran frequently before beginning training and completed the marathon last year.

GSM Stokes hopes to cross the finish line in four hours and forty minutes, but he believes that the following two weeks will have a substantial impact on his pace.

He stated, “I’m over the age of 50, have worn-out knees, and a 6’4” frame that wasn’t meant for speed, so I’m shooting for a finish time of 4 hours and forty minutes, or a 10 minute and forty second mile pace.

‘I’ve been training far more intensively than that, but I have no doubt that the past two weeks will have a huge effect.

In the end, I am anticipating enjoying the event.

However, GSM Stokes will be involved in the preparations for the coronation of King Charles III, so the brief rest following the marathon will be short-lived.

To sponsor GSM Stokes, please visit his donation page for the TCS London Marathon.

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