'I used to be a mechanic': Queen reminisces with Siemens workers on visit to Hull factory

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 17 Nov 2017

Her Majesty the Queen saw a wind turbine blade being made as she met employees at Siemens blade factory in Alexandra Dock.

Employees greeted the Queen after arriving from Paragon Station, including South Hunsley School students who have worked with Siemens Gamesa to build a GreenPower electric car.

The students revealed Her Majesty even spoke of work she used to do when she was younger while she was with them.

Josh Paddison, who had the unenviable task of safely driving the car a very short distance in front of Queen, said it was an amazing experience.

Paul Nichols, Matt Whiteley, the Queen and Clark Macfarlane

He said: "To be 17 and meeting the Queen is amazing. And she got to see the car that we have spent months building and working on.

"She was really interested and said it was good to see young female engineers on the project, saying she used to do work as a mechanic when she was younger."

READ MORE: How more women in Hull are getting jobs in engineering

The Queen also met other workers, including Chris Bastiman, who works on a placement at the factory site.

Mr Bastiman, suffers from hearing and sight difficulties as a result of treatment for the rare PNET tumour, which have a 50 per cent survival rate, and which he recovered from in 2010.

The Queen at the Siemens factory

He is now working in the facility two days a week on cleaning duties, as part of the company’s Pathway Plus programme to help young people with disabilities get into work.

He handed the Queen a bouquet of flowers after she unveiled a plaque at the factory commemorating her visit.

He said: “It was an honour. It’s completely different to when you see her on the TV but it was an amazing experience.

“She was asking us what we do at the factory, and I told her, and she just seemed lovely and approachable.

"I was getting a little nervous beforehand because you never know what will happen but it went great. It means a lot to have been asked her to hand her the flowers today.

“I had a PNET tumour, and I then had chemotherapy for the damaged my hearing and I had other therapy which damaged my sight and that is permanent now.

The Queen meeting apprentices at Siemens

"It’s great that people able to see beyond those disabilities and recognise you for the work you are involved with.”

READ MORE: How Siemens is preparing for the Queen to visit

Clark McFarland, MD of Siemens UK, took the Queen around the factory to meet staff. He said: "It was a great privilege for everybody here.

"I was impressed by the time she spent talking to staff. She was really interested in the product and how people here are making it.

The Queen's visit to Siemens wind turbine blade factory

"It was the first time I have met her and I think it is fantastic for the city that she wanted to come here and meet with our workers."

On the visit the Queen saw a completed wind turbine blade, and saw a packing team pressing fibreglass into moulds to create the product at the factory, which officially opened in September last year.

The Queen with Siemens MD Clark McFarland

Matt Whitely, a packer at the facility said: “She was interested to see us doing our demonstration and we told her we were pressing the fibreglass in to remove any air bubbles that would weaken the structure.

“I kind of thought she might be down to earth, because that is often what people say, and it was great to find out it was true. She was very happy to talk to us and not just move along.

“I really think the City of Culture has brought a spotlight on the city and it is a fantastic experience for everyone here to be involved in, for an occasion as special as this.”

READ MORE: Siemens Gamesa make space at Alexandra Dock blade facility available to developers

Her Royal Highness ended her visit to the region by heading over to Humberside Airport where she met managing director Deborah Zost.

Her last visit to the region was in March 2009. Previously, she visited Beverley in 2002 as part of the Golden Jubilee, as well as a visit in 1981 to officially open the Humber Bridge.

Her Majesty The Queen is welcomed to Humberside Airport by Managing Director Deborah Zost, with the Lord-Lieutenant of East Riding of Yorkshire.

Humberside Airport has also hosted another Royal Visit this year, after their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived at the airport in February to start their visit to Hull.

READ MORE: £170m waste-to-energy plant plan revealed for Immingham

After meeting the Queen, Ms Zost said: "Humberside Airport is delighted to host Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as part of her visit to the UK City of Culture 2017.

"To meet with the Queen is an honour and I am pleased that she has seen the hard work of our team, who provide a high-quality service.

“Both major Royal Visits to the region this year make a difference in raising awareness about how much the Humber region has to offer, from both tourism and business perspectives.

“Humberside Airport is committed to doing its part to help create a great impression on a customer’s arrival and departure from the region through the high levels of service we pride ourselves in.”

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