On Monday 11 August a British Army veteran and locally well known Standard Bearer was all set to become Preston’s very own Chelsea Pensioner. Steve’s last duty as a Standard Bearer was at the ‘Lights Out’ event held on the Flag Market at the War Memorial.
Stephen Allen, known as Steve ‘Tanky’ Allen to his friends, had been wonderfully successful in his application to become one of the worldwide famous Chelsea Pensioners and was to start a new life as a resident at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.
Today’s Chelsea Pensioners come from across the Commonwealth.They have served in conflicts from World War II to the Falklands. Some have never seen active service, but all understand what it means to be a soldier and the potential sacrifice that signing up entails.
By now 72 year old Steve, retired from the British Army for some years, will be settling-in at his new home, The Royal Hospital in Chelsea, where he will be meeting with new friends and discovering what it is to be a Chelsea Pensioner.
When the train bound for London came into the station on platform 4, emotions were somewhat mixed as both Steve and his friends knew that they would miss one another, but at the same time there was a feeling of happiness for Steve because this is what he has longed for for some time and it has become his destiny to be a Chelsea Pensioner and wear his new uniform with pride.
There was a touching moment just before the train departed, the two Standard Bearers present, representing the Royal Air Force and The Royal Navy, presented a colour party in honour of their departing friend.
Despite all the comedic banter and rumours of how someone had attempted to bribe Virgin Trains not to let Steve back into Preston, there is no doubt that we will see Steve again soon; hopefully later this year around November for the Remembrance Ceremony at the War Memorial, in the full crimson uniform of a Chelsea Pensioner.
All the best to you Steve in your new life, you will not be forgotten!
My gratitude goes out to Gillian Lawson for the fabulous photographs she captured of Steve’s day.
Would you like to see Steve come back to visit us as Preston’s one and only Chelsea Pensioner? Let us know in the comments below.