Last Monday, Coldstream Guards Garrison Sergeant Major (GSM) Andrew “Vern” Stokes strode gravely down The Mall for a last inspection before the 4,000-person military parade. The whole world was watching him.
GSM Stokes was responsible of planning the military and ceremonial activities for Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral on Monday, September 19, in both London and Windsor, where a further 1,000 soldiers participated.
Only a few days earlier, he guided members of the Royal family as they followed the Queen’s coffin as it was transported from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall atop a gun carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
On the last circuit of the 26.2-mile marathon route, which starts in Greenwich and weaves through the city’s streets before returning to central London, he is scheduled to pass through The Mall on Sunday.
GSM Stokes, who is collecting money for charity and spoke before the marathon, expressed his “great delight” for his role in organizing the Queen’s burial, which he said helped “spark newfound patriotism” across Britain.
What is obvious, he said, is that the country was inspired by Her Majesty’s burial and the ceremonies that surrounded it.
Since the Queen’s burial, GSM Stokes of Shropshire reported receiving hundreds of notes from grateful individuals.
The Armed Forces, he added, “performed above and above expectation, something they are extremely accustomed to doing on a daily basis, but not necessarily in the nation’s eye on the world scale.”
I’m glad that the years of careful preparation by my colleagues and I resulted in such a beautiful goodbye for Her Majesty.
It was a demanding 12-day schedule of events that all needed briefings, scouts, and rehearsals.
“I feel tremendous pride for everyone who participated, who worked so hard the whole time, and tremendous thankfulness that the country came to a standstill on Monday for hours to remember the Queen’s life.” A fantastic day.
As of right now, GSM Stokes is “looking forward” to completing the London Marathon this weekend and raising money for Tickets for Troops, a nonprofit organization that offers free tickets to military personnel for a range of sports, musical, and cultural events.
Since its inception in 2009, Tickets for Troops has given out 1.8 million tickets to military people who want to “create memories and spend quality time with loved ones while not on deployment.”
GSM Stokes said that he began his marathon training 14 weeks ago, but it was unavoidably put on hold due to the demise of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on September 8 at the age of 96 at her residence in Balmoral.
Unfortunately, the death of Her Majesty halted all training for the time being, he continued.
I just didn’t have time to train over the 12-day period since I was so involved in all the festivities in London and Windsor; as a result, I find myself in the unfortunate situation of having missed four weeks of training.
I ran often before I began the training, and I finished the marathon last year, so I know what to anticipate, what speed to run, and what to expect when I reach the inevitable wall. I still have confidence.
GSM Stokes stated he had “no doubt” that the previous two weeks would significantly affect his timing, despite his goal of finishing in four hours and forty minutes.
I’m over 50, have worn-out knees, and a 6’4″ body that isn’t built for speed, so I’m shooting for a finish time of 4 hours 40 minutes, which is around a 10min 40sec mile pace, the man stated.
Although I’ve been working out far more quickly than that, I am certain that the last two weeks have had a substantial influence.
In the end, I am anticipating enjoying the event.
After the marathon, there won’t be much time for relaxation since GSM Stokes will be taking part in the King Charles III’s Coronation, which will start soon.
Visit GSM Stokes’ TCS London Marathon contribution page to support him.»Soldier who oversaw Queen’s burial will run London Marathon this weekend«