Vale coffin bearer’s pride at role in Baroness Thatcher’s funeral

Thomas Baker, at the front right as viewed here, of Baroness Thatcher's coffin during the funeral. Pictures by PA/Dave Thompson/Christopher Furlong
Thomas Baker, at the front right as viewed here, of Baroness Thatcher's coffin during the funeral. Pictures by PA/Dave Thompson/Christopher Furlong
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A former Aylesbury school pupil has expressed his pride at being one of eight servicemen given the honour of carrying Baroness Thatcher’s coffin.

Thomas Baker, 22, was at the front of the former Prime Minister’s coffin, a key role in the historic funeral.

The coffin bearing the body of Baroness Thatcher leaves St Paul's Cathedral, central London after her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday April 17, 2013. See PA story FUNERAL Thatcher. Photo credit should read: Christopher Furlong/PA Wire

The coffin bearing the body of Baroness Thatcher leaves St Paul's Cathedral, central London after her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday April 17, 2013. See PA story FUNERAL Thatcher. Photo credit should read: Christopher Furlong/PA Wire

However, with more than four million people watching the TV coverage, he spent most of the time making sure he wasn’t the one to trip up.

Mr Baker, who works as an aircraft engineer and technician at RAF Culdrose, said: “The whole day was a bit of a blur.

“We did a lot of practice but on the day we had the noise of the crowd clapping and cheering and the band playing and the sounds of St Paul’s to contend with.

“We had a few hairy moments but looking back it all went OK.”

Mr Baker, who lives in Whitchurch when not on base, was sent to Portsmouth to be part of the team of servicemen working in various roles on the day before being selected as one of the eight to carry the coffin.

Organisers wanted the more junior ranks to do the job and as the former Aylesbury Rugby Club member was the right height he was signed up.

Mr Baker said: “It was a bit daunting at first and didn’t really sink in, but I felt quite honoured.

“One of the reasons I joined the navy was because every day you do something different, as this shows.”

Some people celebrated Baroness Thatcher’s death because they did not agree with her policies but Mr Baker said he went into the day without any political thoughts in his head.

He said: “It was just a duty that I had been asked to do and I was not thinking about who I was carrying.

“We all spoke about it and said it’s nothing personal. It’s just part of our job and we didn’t let any views get in the way.”