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The BBC's Jennie Bond
"It is the Queen Mother's strong character that has won their admiration"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 July, 2000, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Port salute for Queen Mother
The Queen Mother in Dover
Mayors from 14 ports greeted the Queen Mother
The Queen Mother has been flown into Dover by helicopter to receive a special gift, three weeks before her 100th birthday.

She arrived to receive birthday wishes and a scroll from the Confederation of Cinque Ports.

The helicopter touched down at The Duke of York's Military School where the school's 80-strong band played Happy Birthday.

Her Majesty was then driven to Maison Dieu in the town centre where she was presented with a scroll to mark her 100th birthday and the 21st anniversary of her post as Constable of Dover Castle, Lord Warden and Admiral of the Cinque Ports.

She was met by the mayors of the 14 ports, where ships were built for Royal service until 1685, and their mace bearers who formed a guard of honour.

'Special lady'

Cloudy skies and the threat of rain had not deterred wellwishers.

The Royal visitor stepped out of the car smiling to the cheers of the thousands of people who had turned out to see her.

Eight-year-old Nichola Strevens, a pupil of the Harbour School for children with learning difficulties, gave the Queen Mother a posy with a giggle and a curtsy.
A card from wellwisher
Wellwishers gave cards and flowers

Bunty Duncan, from Dartford, Kent, said: "She is a very special lady and I doubt whether we will see a sight like this ever again. She's looking better than me and I'm 74."

Outside the Maison Dieu, the Queen Mother received a painting depicting Dover from the sea on a summer's day as a gift from the town's people.

Councillor Gordon Cowan also presented her with a giant birthday card signed by many of the town's schoolchildren.

He said: "She is a marvellous lady and she brought tears to my eyes. She was very grateful for her presents. I would like to think Dover is her second home and the people here think her very special."

The Queen Mother was then driven to Walmer Castle, her private residence in Dover, for her annual weekend break.

On Tuesday, more than 2,000 guests gathered at a service of thanksgiving and celebration at St Paul's Cathedral to mark the Queen Mother's forthcoming 100th birthday.

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