Molly’s pride over her role in the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

Published: April 22, 2021

A former Telford College public services student has spoken of her pride at being involved in the funeral parade for the Duke of Edinburgh.

Molly Oakley, 21, from Ironbridge, is a communications rating first class for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, part of the Royal Navy, after studying uniformed services at Telford College.

She was stationed on the RFA Tideforce in Scotland when they were notified of the Duke’s death, and was selected to represent her rating in the funeral parade outside Windsor Castle.

Molly told the Shropshire Star it was a great honour to take part, and said that despite the tough training, she felt the parade had gone well.

“I was on board one of my ships in Scotland, the RFA Tideforce, when I received the signal that the Duke had passed away.

“Not long after that I had a call to activate me for ceremonial duties, and I had to go to Portsmouth to begin training straight away.

Molly Oakley | PUS | Telford College

Molly Oakley took part in the parade as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

“There were people coming from all four sides of the country coming together for this. I was in a team of four to train, then we moved into large scale with the army, the royal marines and the air force. I was representing the whole of the ratings, which is the junior rank I’m in.”

Molly said the training was very intense as they worked hard to make sure it was perfect, and they only had around four days of training before the big day.

“It was a very overwhelming experience,” she added. “Obviously the training was hard but when we were actually there and the royals were watching, it was worth it.

“We had to march up to Windsor Castle, and were at the quadrangle outside the castle for around 40 minutes, then did the minute’s silence, then had to march back.

“There are around 30 or 40 of us on standby for ceremonial duties and I was just selected to go this time. I didn’t expect to be picked at all. The whole experience overall was enjoyable.

“We knew what we were there for, so even if our feet were aching a bit, we knew we were doing it for a purpose, and we stood there proud.”

Archie Walkerdine, public uniformed services tutor at Telford College, said: “Molly was an excellent student who embraced and fully engaged with all aspects of the course.Molly Oakley | PUS | Telford College

“She worked hard and produced excellent written work, but it was her efforts and ability when working in a team that really stood out. She would give everything a go, problem solve and make decisions with a calm and confident manner and gently encourage fellow team members.

“Molly brought many of the qualities she had learnt as a keen Royal Navy Sea Cadet to her course, and it does not surprise me in the least that she has gone on to forge a successful career at sea with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

“We are very proud of her achievements, and especially her involvement in the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh.”