SEA cadets from Bridgwater have been handed the honour of leading the Queen’s barge, Gloriana, in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant Sunday (June 3).

The cadets are training hard for the event as they will be the focal point of a huge procession of more than 1,000 vessels, escorting the Queen’s in a pageant the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 1717.

The Bridgwater crew will consist of Lt/Cdr Andy Jennings RNR, Petty Officer Holly Butterfield and cadets Michael Goodwin, 16, Kathryn Jay, 16, Lewis Homewood, 15, and Megan Grainger, 15, with Jemma Jones, 14, in reserve.

The youngsters will form part of a 55-strong team of sea cadet boats from all over the country which will sail in a diamond formation on an 11km route from Wandsworth to Greenwich.

Each one will carry a flag representing a commonwealth nation, with the Bridgwater cadets flying the flag of Nigeria.

Captain Sea Cadets, Capt Mark Windsor RN, said: “This is a great honour for us, not least as Her Majesty is our patron but it also offers our cadets an incredible opportunity to take part in a once in a lifetime event, to be part of history.”

The river procession will take place between 2pm and 6pm, starting upriver of Battersea Bridge and finishing downriver of Tower Bridge.

It will be one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river, with representatives from the armed forces, fire, police, rescue and other services aboard boats of all shapes and sizes decorated with streamers and Union Flags.

Passenger boats carrying up to 30,000 people mid-river, a floating belfry with chiming bells and vessels tooting horns and sounding whistles will bring London’s river alive in celebration of the Queen’s 60-year reign.