This excerpt from my book is a great favourite; Y.W. Huggins is one of the many ‘giants’ who live and work at the Tower of London.
August 2nd: A Yeoman Warder in His Castle
Yeoman Warder Shaun Huggins celebrates his birthday today. Shaun joined the Royal Anglian Regiment at age sixteen as a machine-gunner and at the same time joined their Corps of Drums as a boy drummer. He worked through the ranks to become Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1), as well as the Senior Drum Major (Army), and left in 2011, having achieved twentysix years’ service and been stationed all around the world, to join the Tower as a probationer.
His wife Dawn and their teenage son Joshua joined him once he had finished his probationary six months and this family now lives in a four-storey house in the walls of the Tower, with a main room on each of the four floors. Privacy is of extra importance to them, not least (I guess) because of living on the job, in part of the Tower which still makes up ‘the story’ that is being presented to the public 362 days of the year, and yet needing to be able to separate work from leisure. I felt doubly privileged when Shaun said I would be welcome to visit his home. It felt so personal and warmly welcoming. Tasteful army memorabilia was on display and my breath was taken away when I stepped up to the first landing: displayed on the wall was a great picture of Shaun and his wife Dawn, who had achieved the same WO1 rank in the Adjutant General’s Corps. It was a stunning example of just how enormous these people are – the years of successful devotion to duty, the authority, the dignity, the specialist skills et al. Within the Tower, this couple isn’t necessarily exceptional, but similar to so many others, who have started on the bottom rung of the ladder and gradually climbed to the top, aspiring to excellence. I mentioned to Shaun that despite all the austere grey stonework, their home had a cosy, genteel atmosphere. He replied that Dawn sorted that out – she had the place in order within four weeks (I wouldn’t doubt it)! To purchase a signed copy of the book, press here.