How would you celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee? How about sailing down the River Thames on a 1960s German fireboat waving at Her Majesty yourself?
That’s exactly what Simon Britt will be doing with his friend Keith Prior-Smith as they take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant in the capital on June 3.
Mr Britt, of Second Avenue, Southbourne, has been looking forward to the regal occasion since September when he took his boat Minden on the Thames as part of a rehearsal event for the real thing in ten weeks’ time.
If taking part in the event wasn’t unique enough, Mr Britt will be joining the thousand or so vessels in his former fireboat, of which six were ever made.
In its day it patrolled the River Rhine putting out fires on the banks until 1991 when it was sold to Holland.
The 47-year-old former soldier, and firefighter said he was proud to be taking part, but conceded he was unlikely to get a personal wave from the Queen.
“She probably won’t even see me,” he said.
“I didn’t imagine or see this coming. It’s not going to happen again in my lifetime.
“It’s the biggest event on the River Thames in 150 years, it’s something we will never see again.
“I’m an ex-soldier so I like the royalty and the whole aspect of that.”
He is taking his friend Mr Prior-Smith with him, not just for the company, but as a 50th birthday treat.
He also joined him on the rehearsal event in September.
“I saw it advertised and I wondered whether it was invitation only. Last year I made a decision to contact them to see if they would take me on, they did and I have been invited back for the main event,” he said.
“I think they had 3,000 entries that didn’t get in.
“When we went last year we were the boat that had gone the furthest.”
“It was absolutely amazing to see London from the river, it was fantastic. I don’t often go to London, so to see the sights was fantastic.”
He plans to give the 12m boat a paint job in the spirit of the event, and is hoping to involve some local schools.
Every type of vessel has been encouraged to take part, from rowing boats to historic sailing and motor boats, kayaks and canoes.
“What I’m going to try to do is return her to her service colours, of red, white and blue,” he said. “We are going to try to involve some local schools.”
Mr Britt also praised the work of staff at Emsworth Yacht Harbour where the boat is being kept for their help.