A VETERAN north Antrim poet has officially received the Royal seal of approval for his work.
71-year-old James McIlhatton, originally from the Farren Road near Ballymoney but who now lives in Ballymena, penned a special poem for The Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee.
And after posting the verse off to Buckingham Palace, the retired school caretaker was delighted to get a response from London.
A letter from Lady-in-Waiting Susan Hussey told James Her Majesty described his writings as “charming” and Queen Elizabeth II was “particularly touched” by the poem.
The letter from the Palace read: ‘The Queen wishes me to write and thank you so much for your letter and for enclosing a copy of the charming poem you have composed to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
‘The Queen was particularly touched by the kind words of your poem and I am to tell you that messages such as yours have been a source of great strength and encouragement to Her Majesty throughout her long reign.’
James said: “I am really delighted with the response and it was very nice to get a letter. I wanted to write a poem to mark the historic Diamond Jubilee and it feels marvellous that Her Majesty has read my words.”
James has closely followed Royal affairs over the years and can still keenly remember the events of the early 1950s when Elizabeth monarch.
Said James: “I remember getting a special mug and a box of smarties, like all schoolchildren, at the time of the Queen’s Coronation 60 years ago and I was present when she visited Ballymoney afterwards.”
As well as having poems published in several newspapers over the decades, James, who also takes a keen interest in local history, is the author of six books, including one called ‘The Happy Wanderer’, and another book which he was co-author on.
It is not the first time James has penned a poem for Royalty.
He previously had written a poem for the Queen Mother and also received a response letter from the Royal family.
And with the fresh Royal seal of approval under his belt James says it has spurred him on to keep putting pen to paper.
THE DIAMOND JUBILEE
By James McIlhatton.
Sixty years on the throne
Your Diamond Jubilee today,
Happiness to our dear Monarch
Congratulations we say.
Prayers and good wishes from all of us
And from nations far and wide,
On a special day, a happy day
May God be our heavenly guide.
He’s given us these sixty years
Adverse times have come and gone,
We pray he’ll bless this special day
With happiness, peace and song.