Two inspirational West Suffolk children presented flowers to the Queen during her visit to Newmarket today.
Thousands of people turned out to greet Her Majesty in the town, where she unveiled a specially commissioned statue of herself with a mare and foal celebrating her special relationship with Newmarket and the thoroughbred.
Then it was on to Palace House to officially open the new National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art where the Royal visitor stayed for almost an hour.
Eight-year-old Thomas Cotton, who had to learn to walk and talk again following major brain surgery in 2012, presented the Queen with a posy of flowers during her visit.
The Great Whelnetham Primary School pupil was handpicked to meet Her Majesty by Newmarket dignitaries.
His dad James, who attended the ceremony with wife Joanne, said: “He came back with a big smile on his face. He absolutely loved it. He realised the significance because his school had been talking earlier in the year about the Queen’s 90th birthday.
“For us, it’s really a mark of just how far he’s come from the days he couldn’t stand up to learning to walk again to this. We couldn’t be prouder. We can’t believe how far he’s come and the heights he’s reached.
“We’re just amazed by him and everyone today commented on how well he did.”
In 2012, Thomas had to have a 10 hour operation to disconnect half of his brain which was needed to stop frequent seizures caused by a rare condition known as Rasmussen’s Encephalitis.
Newmarket school girl Darcy Cook, aged five, was also chosen to meet the Queen and present her with a posy.
In August the All Saints School pupil was involved in a life threatening car accident with her father in Bury St Edmunds and underwent major surgery.
She had to learn to walk, talk and eat again but she has made tremendous progress.
Also in attendance were John Hosking and Sean Yarnton, partners at Abbeygate Masonry, in Chedburgh, which was responsible for the stonework on the base of the statue and a nearby bench.
They were joined by Spencer Wix, of Woodbridge, who cut the lettering on the stone.
The team received praise from the Queen for their work.
Mr Hosking said: “We were introduced and I shook her hand which was a privilege and a great honour. She said it (the stonework) was very good.”
The company’s team of seven worked on the project devoting 1,000 hours to work the stone to shape. It then took about a month to fix it all into place on site.
Mr Hosking said: “It was a lovely project and great to be involved in it.”