Published: 00:00, 19 August 2017
A grandfather from Chatham has been sent to the Tower of London.
Gary Burridge has been appointed a Yeoman Warder, more commonly known as a Beefeater, after 32 years in the Royal Navy.
Over the next few months Yeoman Warder Burridge will learn, word for word, the script of the famous tour, before he is allowed to lead one for himself.
The 51-year-old will also become familiar with 21 duties that must be completed each day, such as answering historical questions, helping visitors and having their photograph taken.
They also take part in various traditional ceremonies such as the Ceremony of the Keys, which has been conducted each night without fail for at least 700 years.
Before joining the Tower of London, Yeoman Warder Burridge was an Officer of the Day about HMS Victory in Portsmouth.
He has also been stationed with the Navy in Rosyth and Faslane in Scotland. Outside of work, he is a keen motorbike enthusiast.
“Becoming a Yeoman Warder is a dream come true, I still have to pinch myself,” the grandad-of-one said. “I feel incredibly privileged and honoured to wear the uniform as a member of the Queen’s Bodyguard.
"Entering the Tower of London is like stepping into another world – there’s nothing quite like it.”
He said he was most looking forward to learning the history of the Tower: “It’s going to be six months of hard slog learning 1,000 years of history, especially at my age.
“I am very proud to be part of the unique traditions, and excited by the challenge of sharing over 900 years of history with visitors.”
The Yeoman Warders are descended from the ancient band of warders who guarded the gates and royal prisoners early in the Tower’s history. It is thought they are known as Beefeaters because they used to be given a daily ration of meat for their duties.
Now they combine their traditional ceremonial role with a love of history to make the past come to life for visitors. As well as their duties at the Tower, Yeoman Warders also attend the Coronation of the Sovereign, lying-in-state, the Lord Mayor’s Show and other state and charity fundraisers.