CHRIS Gilliver spent nearly a year preparing for the Queen’s visit to Valley Parade in 1997. From lining up City players on a red carpet rolled out on the pitch to perfecting the curtsy with a lady-in-waiting, Chris worked tirelessly to ensure the day ran smoothly.

On Thursday, March 27, 1997 the Queen visited Bradford with the Duke of Edinburgh to mark the centenary of its royal charter as a city. The royal couple went to Bradford Cathedral, where the Queen distributed Maundy Money, before arriving at the newly-named Centenary Square to unveil a plaque and pay respects at the Bradford City fire memorial. After lunch at City Hall, the royals travelled to Valley Parade to open Bradford City FC’s new £1.5 million Allied Colloids stand.

Chris was Sales and Marketing Manager at Valley Parade and her husband, ex-Bradford City player Allan Gilliver, known as Gilly, was Commercial Manager. “Nearly 12 months of work went into the royal visit,” says Chris. “There was a lot of organisation in terms of who to invite and where to seat them. I has several visits from an equerry and had to write a piece about everyone the Queen would meet. I did a dress rehearsal with all the staff and the players, standing on a red carpet laid across the pitch. The lads weren’t very co-operative until (City manager) Kammy told them to stop messing about! They were totally different on the day - in awe I’d say.

“We practised saying ‘mam’, to rhyme with ‘jam’, in case the Queen spoke to any of us. One of her ladies-in-waiting came to show us the correct way to curtsy and the men to bow their heads.

“When the Queen arrived, she was greeted by Geoffrey Richmond (Bradford City chairman) then Gilly and I introduced her to the sponsors. She knew something about each of them, she’d clearly read the details I’d sent to her office.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Chris Gilliver with the Queen at Valley Parade Chris Gilliver with the Queen at Valley Parade (Image: Submitted)

“She was like a China doll, so petite, with skin like porcelain. Her outfit was bright orange. Her equerry told me she wore those types of colours so she could easily been seen.”

Adds Chris: “The weather was atrocious, pelting with rain and blowing a gale. The Queen was amazing - out came the brollies and off she went, onto the pitch, led by Geoffrey. She was introduced to the players, including Stuart McCall, by Chris Kamara then taken to her seat in the stand.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Queen on the red carpet on the football pitchThe Queen on the red carpet on the football pitch (Image: Newsquest)

There were performances on the pitch from youngsters at Idle theatre school Stage 84 and dancers from Kala Sangam.

“The Queen smiled through the entertainment, chatting occasionally,” recalls Chris. “The Ciba stand was open-sided, she must have been freezing. I think they had rugs with them though.

“Hours and hours of rehearsal went into that day. It was an amazing experience. She was a wonderful lady. I doubt there will be anyone like her again.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Crowds greet Her Majesty at the football ground Crowds greet Her Majesty at the football ground (Image: Newsquest)

T&A readers have been sharing memories of meeting the Queen on our Facebook page, We Grew Up in Bradford:

Janet Buckley was on the front page of the T&A in 1997. “It was the day of the city centenary. Her Majesty shook my hand and asked if I’d travelled far. My daughter was playing in the Bradford Youth Orchestra that day in Centenary Square,” says Janet.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Janet Buckley, left with camera, on the front page of the T&A Janet Buckley, left with camera, on the front page of the T&A (Image: Newsquest)

Leanne Byrne was a child when the Queen came to open Bradford’s new police headquarters on November 12, 1974.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Queen on a rainy walkabout in Bradford in 1974The Queen on a rainy walkabout in Bradford in 1974 (Image: Newsquest)

“It poured with rain. I was with my mum, we’d waited ages. We got our reward when the Queen came over to our bit of the crowd. Everyone was trying to talk to her, she was very polite with a big smile. She didn’t seem to mind the rain. A girl near us handed her a bunch of flowers and I remember thinking, ‘Why didn’t I bring flowers?’ Every time I saw the Queen on TV over the years, all I could think was ‘I wish I’d taken her some some flowers’.”

Frank Healy recalls: “I only ever saw the Queen twice in person - it was on the same day. I was a boy Scout (with the 48th Bradford East) aged 14, we lined Wakefield Road when the Queen visited on Thursday, October 28, 1954.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Queen waves to crowds in Bradford in 1954The Queen waves to crowds in Bradford in 1954 (Image: Newsquest)

“Having stood there for several hours (it seemed like forever), her car drove past swiftly. That was the first time. Later in the day her car came along Laisterdyke towards Dudley Hill and, like many others, I thought her smile and wave was directed just at me.”

Adrian Mitchell recalls: “I was seven when the Queen came on Laisterdyke. I jumped on the running board of the car, with nose to the glass inches away from the Queen, when I was pulled off.”

Elaine Garnett saw the Queen on her 1974 visit to Bradford: “The Queen was being driven down Great Horton Road as we stood at the end of Bartle Lane. I remember being extremely disappointed that she wasn’t wearing a crown and full regalia.”

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