More than a week after the Jubilee - Hitchin piper Andrew Weymouth can hardly believe he played at the lighting of the Jubilee beacon on the Bowes-Lyon estate at St Paul's Walden Bury.

The monarchist clearly remembers celebrating the Queen's coronation with gusto as a small boy in Northern Rhodesia - now Zambia.

He said: "I was five years old and the memory of all the bunting, parades and flags is with me still.

"When Lady Caroline approached me earlier this year, I thought she'd asked me by mistake and my initial reaction was to say no.

"But then I realised what a huge honour it was to be invited to take part in such a unique event, and to pay homage to my Sovereign, so I accepted smartly in case she changed her mind..

"Thank goodness I did - it's been the pinnacle of my piping career."

The Comet: Sir Simon Bowes-Lyon lights the Jubilee beaconSir Simon Bowes-Lyon lights the Jubilee beacon (Image: Bev Creagh)

The retired South African civil engineer, who lives on London Road, says it took blood, sweat and tears to learn Diu Regnare, the march specially written for the occasion by Stuart Liddle - founder and pipe major of the world champion Inverary and District Pipe Band - as a tribute to the Queen on her Platinum Jubilee.

But he recalls his blind terror before the event: "I had moments of
confidence interspersed with the conviction I hadn't a clue - and I think the neighbours felt the same.

"I was really anxious and edgy on the day but Lady Caroline and Sir Simon had invited me in for a wee dram and that settled the nerves.

"I felt so proud, privileged and humbled to be there. I'm sure my performance was riddled with mistakes but at the end everyone
gave me a round of applause.

"Then Sir Simon lit the beacon which went up with a roar and I started
playing all the tunes everyone was familiar with. It really was a
once-in-a-lifetime experience and it hit me again how lucky I was to be

Scottish couple Stewart and Moira McLeish, who came south specially for the occasion, enjoyed every moment of the Hitchin festivities.

The Comet: L-R: Rosemary Hopkin John, Stewart and Moira McLeish enjoying the festivitiesL-R: Rosemary Hopkin John, Stewart and Moira McLeish enjoying the festivities (Image: Bev Creagh)

Moira said: "It's something we'll never forget - it was a real privilege to be part of the crowd hearing Andrew play. And singing the national anthem afterwards gave us goosebumps.

"We also loved watching the Trooping of the Colour on the big screen in Hitchin town square. There was such a super atmosphere, sitting in the sunshine and having a cuppa.

"We wouldn't have missed it for the world."

Andrew, 74, was featured in the Comet during lockdown when he gathered a loyal following in London Road playing his pipes during the weekly Clap for Carers.