Aug 20 2012 By Jeff Holmes
HISTORY buff Margo Chestnut took part in her very own Diamond Jubilee celebrations when she came across a stunning old photograph.
Margo, from Paisley, discovered the old black and white pic of her grandfather – Thomas Bell – attending the Queen’s visit to town way back in June 1953.
Thomas was invited to the event at Gilmour Street train station as the Commandant of the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association.
County Square was packed out as Her Majesty and Prince Philip arrived for an official visit.
Margo, 53, told the Paisley Daily Express: “I wasn’t born when the Queen and Prince Philip came to Paisley but I remember my grandmother talking about it.
“She recalled it being a really exciting time for Paisley, with the town buzzing ahead of the visit.”
Margo came across the old family heirloom while clearing out her mum’s personal belongings, shortly after her death.
She said: “There were loads of old photographs, including one of my gran on a motorbike!
“There were also pics of gran and grandpa walking about in Clydebank shortly after the Blitz but the one that really caught my attention was the Royal visit to Paisley and my grandpa standing proudly as the Queen and Prince Philip emerged from Gilmour Street station.
“In fact, my grandpa looks as if he’s having a good old chinwag with one of the nurses!”
Margo, who attended the John Neilson Institution as a youngster, added: “Just above my grandpa, there is a young girl standing at the window, trying to get a good look at the Queen. I thought that was priceless.”
The Queen and Prince Philip were officially welcomed to Paisley by Provost C Stewart Black when the visit took place on June 25, 1953.
Also at Gilmour Street station to meet the royal party were Sir Guy Shaw Stewart, Lord Lieutenant for Renfrew, and the band of HMS Sanderling.
The VIP visitors then walked over to the front of the Municipal Buildings for a formal ceremony on a specially-constructed platform.
Provost Black conducted proceedings and invited Her Majesty to sign the visitors’ book.
It was a proud day for Thomas, who was born in Lanarkshire but moved the family to Paisley as he looked for work in the mining industry.
He soon became a well-known figure in the town, mainly through his work with the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association, of which he was a member for 34 years.
Thomas was appointed Commandant of the Paisley section in 1956, while he was resident in the town’s Inchinnan Road.
He gave lessons in first aid to factory employees, the Boys’ Brigade, doctors and prison officers at Barlinnie Jail, in Glasgow.
Another of his great interests was the welfare of handicapped children, whom he helped to entertain every year.
He was also the organiser of the first aid teams that were on duty at games involving the Paisley Pirates ice hockey squad as well as St Mirren Football Club.
Thomas was the son of a miner and followed in his dad’s footsteps before becoming an engineer.
Margo said: “I was 12 when my grandpa died but, by all accounts, he was totally dedicated to his first aid work.
“This photograph is a great way to remember him and, hopefully, other people in Paisley will either recognise themselves or members of their family.”
l Do you recognise anyone in Margo’s old snap? If so, call Jeff Holmes in the Express newsroom on 0141 309 3185 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have other old photographs of Paisley or the surrounding towns and villages that you would like to share with our readers, ring our newsroom on 0141 887 7911, send an e-mail to email@example.com or write to us at Editorial Department, Paisley Daily Express, One Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA.