My ‘once in a lifetime’ meeting with The Duke of Edinburgh

published on 16 Apr 2021

Major Ray Mackereth was a child visiting the Isle of Man when he had the opportunity to meet and play for HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

Ray is pictured holding a cornet and stood directly behind the child at the centre of the photograph.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh meeting Salvation Army band members on the Isle of Man
Major Ray Mackereth (circled) met HRH The Duke of Edinburgh whilst on a trip to the Isle of Man.

“This was really a once-in-a-lifetime moment” said Major Ray Mackereth.

“As a family we didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but I was fortunate to be very much active in The Salvation Army young people’s band and singing company at my home corps in Gateshead.

“The drummer in our senior band used to visit the TT races each year on the Isle of Man and asked if I’d like to go with him – the proviso was that I took my Salvation Army uniform with me!

...(we) heard that the band was 'on duty' for a visit from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Major Ray Mackereth

“We stayed with a Salvationist couple and attended band practices during our visit and while there heard that the band was ‘on duty’ for a visit from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. We were all kitted out – I had my Army uniform with me – we practised marching and countermarching and marched to Peel Town Square where we meet the Duke while the Queen was greeting people in the square.

“He acknowledged a few of us – including me! - and the young lad in front of me was overwhelmed that the Duke singled him out for a conversation. I remember him joking about the size of the brass instrument compared to the lad holding it! It was interesting to be part of that day and, looking back, I remember how relaxed the Duke was around so many children.”

The young Ray grew up with an inner conviction that God had called him to ‘carry the light of the gospel’ and he became a Salvation Army officer, serving for many years in our social services and overseas.

He said: “I made the decision in Sunday school but it would be 20 years later – after I’d married and had two children – that I said ‘Yes Lord, but I don’t want to go where you want me’ and he got his own way in the end; it’s been an exciting adventure!”