IT was a moment when an unplanned act of kindness touched the heart of a local lady and her family.
May Gage, from Knockahollett, was one of many from the North Antrim area who was fortunate enough to get an invite to see the Queen mark her Diamond Jubilee celebrations with a visit to Northern Ireland.
The grounds of Stormont were jammed with well-wishers and May, who had been taken there by her family, showed as much enthusiasm as anyone for the Queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Completely unknown to May, a young man from Armagh, Philip Johnston, had stood patiently in the hot sun for hours hoping to present Her Majesty with a bouquet of flowers.
Unfortunately, the route from the main gates at Stormont to the upper grounds was not on the Queen’s schedule for a walkabout and all Philip got was a fleeting glimpse of the Royal family as they drove away in their limousine.
Naturally, Philip was disappointed but in a spontaneous act, he turned round to May and handed her the flowers instead saying ‘you’ll be my Queen for the day,’ before wishing her all the best.
May, who was wheelchair bound, was close to tears as were her family.
Her daughter, Margaret, told the Times: “Mammy was over the moon and felt she had been given really special treatment. It’s always nice to receive a bunch of flowers and the way it was done made it even nicer.”
“All we know about Philip is that he comes from Armagh, but he’s clearly a very good chap and the family will always remember his kindness.
He was disappointed when the Queen’s cars and all the dignitaries passed by with only a wave for the crowd, but he obviously felt he could make use of the flowers he had and mammy just happened to be by his side.”
Had Mr. Johnston been able to present his card to the Queen, she would have read:
‘God Save the Queen from everyone in Northern Ireland.’
May, a familiar and respected figure in the area, is a loyal follower of Lavin Flute band and has served on the Ladies Committee for years helping organise fund-raising events and helping out where she can.
At present, May is experiencing health problems and has been hospitalised as a result.
However, her dominant spirit and zest for life will keep her in good spirits.
She has received the good wishes of all her friends for a quick recovery.