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EDITIONS
Friday, 24 May, 2002, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Lift-off for Jubilee tour
The Queen
The Queen is on the second day of her Scottish tour
The Queen has officially opened the world's only rotating boatlift on the second day of her Golden Jubilee tour of Scotland.

About 5,000 people gathered to welcome the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to the Millennium Wheel in Falkirk, which completes the 84.5m, 68-mile Millennium Link project.

The wheel is the centrepiece of an 84.5m project to establish a coast-to-coast link across central Scotland.

It is expected to become a major international attraction with its two gondolas carrying up to four boats at a time between the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals in 250,000 litres of water.


She was a lot younger than I thought and took a lot of time to speak to me and my friends

Gillian Aitken, 11

During her visit the Queen also formally conferred city status on the historic town of Stirling and met the oldest person in Scotland.

Lucy d'Abreu celebrated her 110th birthday with a visit to the Municipal Buildings in Stirling.

Mrs d'Abreu, who was given the middle name Victoria after the reigning monarch when she was born, chatted with the Queen for several minutes.

Brandy nightcap

Born in India in 1892, Mrs d'Abreu lived most of her life in County Wexford, Ireland, where her husband, who was a cousin by marriage to the Queen Mother, established a surgical practice.

She attributed her long life to "my customary sun-downer of brandy and dry ginger ale".

Provost of Stirling Tommy Brookes showed the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh the Letters Patent, which formally recognised the city's new status.

Boy with flag
Crowds turned out to see the Royal couple

Stirling was one of five towns to be given city status to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

The Queen then moved on to Falkirk where she officially opened the 17m wheel, which is set to be a visitor attraction of international standing.

It is the lynchpin of the Millennium Link which restores the waterways between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

It is hoped that the wheel and the Millennium Link project will bring widespread regeneration to Falkirk and throughout the 70-mile waterway corridor across Scotland.

'Really lovely person'

Thaseeb Akhtar, 14, of nearby California, who presented the Queen with a large bouquet of flowers, said: "I was really excited at meeting her - she is a really lovely person."

Gillian Aitken, 11, of Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire, also had a brief chat with the Queen. She said: "She was a lot younger than I thought and took a lot of time to speak to me and my friends. It was great."

Local businessman Joe Lemetti accompanied a group of 35 local youngsters.

Millennium Wheel
The Millennium Wheel

He said: "The Queen spent a lot of time with the kids and seemed genuinely interested in everything they had to say."

George Greener, chairman of British Waterways, told the Queen the Falkirk Wheel would be a massive boost for the entire country.

He said: "It has been a privilege for us to make the dreams of all those involved a reality.

"This means that sailing from Glasgow to Edinburgh is once again possible for the first time in many decades and I am sure it will be of great benefit to this community and further afield."

Edinburgh reception

The imposing structure is expected to attract 150,000 visitors a year to the area.

On Friday evening the Queen hosts a reception for about 500 people at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

Guests are expected to include actors Robert Carlyle and Daniella Nardini, along with leading names from the world of finance, education and business.

The Scottish members of Britain's Winter Olympic team - including the gold medal-winning curling team and skier Alain Baxter, who was stripped of his bronze following a drug test - are also expected to attend.

The Queen will be in Scotland for the next six days as she meets people from the Isle of Lewis to the Borders.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Isabel Fraser reports
"The Queen officially opened the Millennium Wheel"
The BBC's Louise Bevan
"Crowds of young fans on the riverbank cheered excitedly"
Falkirk Council leader David Alexander
"The wheel is a very very positive icon for the district"

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