A WELL-KNOWN York publican is to take part in the historic Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant next month as part of a crew of rowers from North Yorkshire.

The event on June 3 will see over 1,000 boats of all shapes and sizes gather in London to make up the largest flotilla seen on the River Thames in 200 years to mark 60 years of the Queen’s reign.

Jim Hardie, 52, landlord of the Blue Bell in Fossgate, was invited to join the crew of the century-old former Whitby lifeboat the William Riley. The craft, which is maintained by the Whitby Historic Lifeboat Trust, will be manned by members of the Whitby Fishermen’s Rowing Club, alongside keen rower Jim.

“We’ve been training hard on the River Esk and the North Sea for what I think will be an amazing experience”, said Jim, who, with several of his pub’s regulars, has previously completed a 60-mile row from Newcastle to Whitby in the historic vessel, which was in service from 1909 to 1919.

The Pageant will be watched by a global audience of 500million people and the Queen herself will be on the water in a royal barge crewed by Olympic champions Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave.

“It’s not often as many boats as this gather in the Thames – it hasn’t been common since Henry VIII’s reign. There is a rumour that the William Riley went to Dunkirk in 1939 as part of the famous British flotilla so it’ll be even more significant for us.”

And the boat will hit the waves once again next year when Jim and his fellow crew members row the Channel to raise funds for charity.

“The Pageant is going to be fantastic – we’re right behind the Queen’s Barge so we might be able to save her if she falls in” said Jim.