Gwen recalls starring role

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THE Queen was not the only one fondly recalling her accession to the throne on the occasion of her diamond jubilee.

Gwen Edwards, from Great Cornard, had a pivotal role to play in ensuring the 1952 Coronation went without a hitch.

Aged 17 and working at Stephen Walters factory in Sudbury, Mrs Edwards was chosen as the sole weaver of the silk used to create the Queen’s Coronation robe.

She had only been in the job a short time, having began an apprenticeship two years earlier, but there were no doubts about whether she was up for the task.

“I used to love weaving and most of my family had been weavers as well, so it was in the blood,” said the 77-year-old.

“I didn’t really give what I was doing much thought at the time, but the jubilee brought back a lot of memories.”

The process of making the silk took Mrs Edwards around eight weeks to complete.

She spent most of this time inside a large glass box, which was built around her loom to stop dust getting on the ivory fabric, with a pipe leading outside to allow her to breathe.

It was here that Mrs Edwards was also photographed by American magazine Life, which was running a feature on the approaching Coronation.

“I was inside the box, which was like being in a greenhouse, when I looked up and saw all the photographers peering in and flashing away,” said Mrs Edwards, who lives with her husband Daniel in Queensway.

In recognition of her fine work, Mrs Edwards was presented with a piece of the precious silk fabric used to make the robe and a book charting its progress. She still has both mementoes.

“I am probably one of the only ones left who worked at the factory at that time,” said Mrs Edwards.

“I remember we were all allowed to watch the Coronation on television at the factory and I’m lucky enough to still be around after all these years to see the diamond jubilee.”

Mrs Edwards left Stephen Walters four years later, but returned in 1965, clocking up 32 more years before retiring.