Chance encounter at Buckingham Palace for Birkenshaw pair

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A Birkenshaw teacher awarded the MBE was astonished to discover a member of the Queen’s staff had grown up on his old street after a chance meeting at Buckingham Palace.

When Michael Judge was given his honour on March 1 he bumped into Yeoman of the Guard Steve Clarke MBE, from East Bierley, on duty alongside the Queen.

Steve, an ex-soldier, then revealed that he had once lived just a few doors down from Michael on Moor Lane, Birkenshaw, and had played in the ruins of the Judge family’s home after subsidence caused its collapse.

Michael, a former Heckmondwike Grammar School pupil who later taught at the school, lived with his parents and three siblings in Moorfield House from 1949 until the mid-60s. Just six weeks after they left, the property was destroyed due to movement from nearby Gomersal Pit.

Steve and his family arrived in 1969, moving into a cottage next to a local shop, and he used the old garage on the site of Moorfield House as a playground. The pair even discovered that by a strange coincidence, Steve had kept pigeons in the garage - as had Michael’s brother Peter decades before.

Steve, who holds the George Medal, joined the Yeomanry in 2014 and volunteers for Royal Guard duties including the opening of Parliament.

“To meet someone from the same village at Buckingham Palace 50 years after he had left was extraordinary and a happy bonus to a wonderfully memorable day,” said Michael.

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