Meet the NI man making a right royal exhibition of himself to mark Platinum Jubilee


If you go down to Randalstown over the coming days, you’re in for a right royal treat.

Because a Church of Ireland rector is putting his hundreds of items of regal memorabilia on display as part of a charity exhibition.

Ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Canon Derek Kerr is inviting royal fans to take a walk into Drummaul Parish Church, which will be full of memorabilia collected by him over the years.

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All this week, the vicar of Drummaul, Duneane and Ballyscullion, has been busy packing and transporting everything from plates, jugs, saucers, cushions to photographs, paintings, framed letters from Buckingham Palace and much more from the vicarage where he lives to church. .

Royal enthusiast Derek has been collecting all regal things for the past 30 years and has gathered up around 500 items, the oldest being a jug and some crockery dating back to Queen Victoria’s days.

Enthusiast Derek has been collecting all things Royal for the past 30 years and has gathered around 500 items.
(Image: Justin Kernoghan / Belfast Live)

A native of DungannonDerek’s royal passion can be traced back to his childhood.

“As a small boy I loved historical characters, especially fantasy characters like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table,” he explained.

“It was with King Arthur that my love of other worldly stuff began – old houses and National Trust properties and a real fascination with the Royal Family. As some of my good friends say, it’s delusions of grandeur!

“But when all my teenage mates were still lying in their beds on a Saturday afternoon, I was out digging potatoes with my family to earn pocket money.

“With that I bought a big framed poster of Charles and Diana’s wedding for my bedroom wall and it grew from there.”

Derek’s extensive collection includes items relevant to the royal family past and present, and includes china commemorating Queen Victoria’s 60 years on the throne; a miniature photo book of royals from bygone days; a plate marking the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935; and new souvenirs of this year’s Platinum Jubilee – cushions and gold plated teaspoons.

But pride of place goes to a very unlikely object – a baby rattle which once belonged to his late mother and commemorates the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary in 1935.

As well as collecting memorabilia, Derek, 57, has done an average of 10 ‘Royal Talks’ a year and takes every opportunity he can to attend special events.

His first was the Queen Mother’s 100 th birthday in 2000, when he positioned himself between Clarence House and Buckingham Palace. Two years later, Derek was a guest at a Garden Party at Loughry College in Cookstown to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

On this occasion he, “circumnavigated three bodyguards to walk up to the Queen, take her hand, bow and thank her for coming”.

Royal memorabilia collected by the Rev Canon Derek Kerr.
Royal memorabilia collected by the Rev Canon Derek Kerr.
(Image: Justin Kernoghan / Belfast Live)

Derek was also in Windsor for the Queen’s 80 th birthday in 2006 and in London in 2011 when Prince William married Kate Middleton, having spent the previous night on the Mall to secure “an excellent spot” to catch a glimpse of the bride and groom and the other royals.

“I do appreciate the Royal Family and the institution of monarchy and when it’s done well, it’s a focus of loyalty and kindness.

“When the Queen goes to the site of a national disaster like Grenfell for example, it feels like we’ve all been represented. I hope that continues with the next generation who occupy the throne afterwards,” he explained.

To mark the 60 th anniversary of the Queen’s reign in 2012, Derek hosted his royal exhibition at Drummaul Parish Church, with proceeds going to parish funds and the NSPCC.

Three years later, Derek again hosted an exhibition to celebrate Her Majesty becoming the UK’s longest reigning monarch. This raised £ 1,300 for Tabiro School in Uganda which Drummaul, Duneane and Ballyscullion had built through Fields of Life.

As well as collecting memorabilia, Derek takes every opportunity he can to attend royal events.
As well as collecting memorabilia, Derek takes every opportunity he can to attend royal events.
(Image: Justin Kernoghan / Belfast Live)

His latest exhibition from May 13-22 to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will raise funds for the parish, with 10% of monies donated going to the Salvation Army in memory of the late Aurelia Kelly, who tragically died in a Co Antrim car crash late last year.

The mother-of-two from Ballymena was the wife of Revd Trevor Kelly, curate of Drummaul, Duneane and Ballyscullion.

After the exhibition, Derek will then head to London to enjoy the events of the Platinum Jubilee weekend, which runs from June 2-5.

The exhibit was launched on Friday May 13 and will be open on Sunday, May 15 and Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 from 2 pm-5pm and from 7.30pm-10pm.

It will also be open in the evenings from Monday to Friday, May 16-20 from 7.30pm until 10pm although visits outside of these hours can be pre-arranged.

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