The day my 'uncle George' showed the Queen around Mansfield

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations have stirred memories of one the most glorious days in Mansfield’s history 45 years ago.

By Richard Silverwood
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 4:50 pm

For on Thursday, July 28, 1977, Her Majesty, accompanied by Prince Philip, the Duke Of Edinburgh, visited the town to mark her Silver Jubilee.

And few people look back on the occasion with more pride than 64-year-old Chris Cooper, who lives in Huthwaite.

For the man she called her ‘uncle George’ was the person given the enviable task of escorting the Queen on her visit, which included the official opening of Mansfield’s new public library.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Coun George Jelley, in his role as chairman of the district council, escorts the Queen on her visit to Mansfield in 1977

‘Uncle George’ was, in fact, the father of her auntie, Valerie Devney, 78, who lives in Mansfield Woodhouse.

And to give him his proper title, he was Coun George Jelley, chairman in 1977 of Mansfield District Council, which had only been formed three years earlier.

He sported his chain of office and, along with his wife, Daisy, he showed the Queen around the town as she met members of the public and received flowers and gifts from local children.

"I can’t remember much about the day,” said Chris, who was 19 at the time. “It was such a big event and the crowds were so packed.

Coun George Jelley walks alongside the Queen as she waves to the Mansfield crowds in 1977. He was the father of Chris Cooper's auntie, Valerie Devney, who lives in Mansfield Woodhouse.

"But I do know that uncle George was as proud as punch. He was really chuffed and very much in his element.

"After all, getting to accompany the Queen is not something you do every day!”

Chris says that George often used to talk about his moment in the spotlight in later years until his death at the age of 91.

"He told the Queen and Prince Philip all about the town and its shops,” she said. “But I think their conversation was mainly about general things because she was busy shaking hands and meeting people in the crowd.”

Coun George Jelley accompanies the Queen after she had officially opened Mansfield's new public library.

George was a much respected councillor, who had previously been chairman of Mansfield Woodhouse Urban District Council.

The Devney family is well known in Mansfield Woodhouse, with Valerie marrying the brother, Alan, of Chris’s mum, Josephine Ellis (nee Devney), who is 83 and lives in Sutton.

Chris (nee Ellis), now divorced, is a self-employed private cleaner and has two children of her own, Samantha, 36, and Matthew, 35, who both live in Sutton, as well as two young grandchildren.

A proud Coun George Jelley looks on as the Queen meets and greets local children on her 1977 visit to Mansfield.