IT was Don Barker’s proudest moment in his long career as a blacksmith.

Mr Barker, who has forges in Wigginton and Elvington, travelled to London to see the unveiling of a national memorial to the Queen Mother which he helped create.

Don provided bronze railings and lamps for the permanent memorial, which has been built off The Mall in London, close to a statue of the Queen Mother’s late husband, King George VI.

The Queen led the nation in honouring her mother’s memory as she unveiled the monument yesterday, joined by members of the Royal Family including Prince William, Prince Harry, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the Princess Royal and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah were also among the guests, along with culture secretary Andy Burnham.

The Prince of Wales paid a poignant personal tribute to his “darling grandmother”, praising her “vitality”, “unbounded courage and determination” and her “irresistible and irrepressible sense of mischievous humour”.

“All of us gathered here today will I know miss my darling grandmother’s vitality,” he said.

The bronze statue of the royal matriarch, who died aged 101 in 2002, forms the centrepiece of the £2 million monument.

The Queen Mother has been depicted by sculptor Philip Jackson in the flowing robes of a garter knight and the bronze statue stands 9ft 6in tall.

Mr Barker, who created ten wrought and cast bronze railings in a classical style to run alongside steps leading up to the statues, along with four gas lamps, said after the ceremony: “It was fantastic. It’s not the kind of thing you do every day. It’s the best day of my life.”

The blacksmith was involved for about five years in the memorial project, one of the biggest and most prestigious he has ever been involved in.

The plans to create the memorial were originally announced in 2005 by Mr Brown, the then chancellor, in his Budget speech, with the project funded by the sale of a coin marking the 80th birthday of The Queen in 2006.