11 Sep 2022

A great loss has been experienced, words are inadequate

On Thursday 8th September, Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms, the longest-living and longest-reigning British monarch, 96 years old, passed away at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

At the recent Slovenia Para Open in Otocec, in the men’s singles events Great Britain’s Rob Davies won class 1, colleague Will Bayley struck gold in class 7.

It was a repeat of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the outcome being that in the Queen’s New Year’s Honour List, both received the MBE (Member of the British Empire); the presentation was made by Prince William.

However, in the past few days, it has been the events immediately following the London 2012 Paralympic Games that is foremost in their memories.

Soon after the conclusion of the Games, they were members of the British Para Team that received invitations to attend a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, both had the privilege of meeting Queen Elizabeth.

“For me she was like everyone’s grandma, someone who was constantly there. We heard that she was unwell when we landed in Finland and then heard the news that she had passed away the night before the tournament started. When I put the news on I burst into tears, I don’t know how you can have that feeling about someone who you have never really spoken to or known that well, so it just shows what an amazing person she was and how important she was to the country.

I’ve got so much respect for the Royal Family and what they have done; they’ve always been so supportive of the Paralympics as well. I’ve been to the Palace and The Queen always greeted us with a smile on her face and was very generous with her time to the Paralympians. I don’t take that for granted because it is not a given that it happens. She had an amazing life and last night I was looking to celebrate her life and everything she has done but it is a massive loss to the country, and everyone is feeling sad about it. All our thoughts and sympathy are with the Royal Family at this time.” Will Bayley

The sentiments were the same from Rob Davies, who now some 16 years ago broke his neck when playing rugby for Brecon, was advised he would be totally paralyzed, found table tennis and met Her Majesty.

“I met the Queen with the squad after London and she had a little chat with us and she was just a lovely lady – we had a bit of a giggle with her and it was a lovely moment that I will always remember. She reminded me of my great grandma, if I’m honest and I think that is what made her so special. She and Prince Philip were so strong together for the whole country and did so much for us all.” Rob Davies

Without doubt, the comments made by Will Bayley and Rob Davies reflect the mood of a nation.

ITTF Finland Open 2022 Para Table Tennis

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