The horror of the floods and the evacuations had left thousands confused, shattered and panic-stricken about their future. But as she had done during the Second World War, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother did her best to comfort those whom nature had dispossessed.
She came to King John School in Shipwrights Drive with her daughter Princess Margaret, to talk to those who had narrowly escaped Canvey with their lives – and little else. During the tragic floods the Thundersley School had been turned into an emergency centre for those made homeless.
Teacher Betty Finch said: “The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret came along as did many senior members of the Government to see what sort of facilities we had and to visit the people living in the centre. The Queen Mother had visited Canvey and then she came to see us.
“She went around the centre seeing everything that we had done and were doing, for those living at the school, and she was very appreciative.
“She also spent hours talking to those who had lost their homes and hearing their stories.” Tory county councillor Ray Howard, who was evacuated from his Canvey home and living at the centre, still fondly remembers the royal visit.
He said: “She came to give us courage and confidence at this time and she was marvellous. She had a kind word to say to everybody.
She took the time to speak to everyone.
“I am a staunch royalist and I will always be grateful she came to see us”.
The supplement that this article was taken from was given to us by Mrs Alice Chafer, to whom we extend our thanks.
It is an exact transcription, including photos, from the Echo supplement dated Wednesday, January 15 2003, which was part of a commemorative weekly pullout.