From Yeovil to Yeoman for ex-Marine
Former Royal Marine Andy Merry has swapped the Green Beret for a Tudor uniform as he begins a new life as a Beefeater at the Tower of London.
Friends and former neighbours from Yeovil, where he and his family lived for some years, will do a double-take if they visit the 1,000-year-old palace, for they'll find Mr Merry leading one of the famous Yeoman Warder Tours.
At the moment he is still learning the story by heart, along with the 21 other duties that the Warders have to carry out each day.
Mr Merry, aged 46, gave 24 years of service with the Royal Marines, serving in Northern Ireland, the Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan among other places. Before joining the Yeoman Body at the Tower, he worked for a maritime security company protecting ships from attack by Somali pirates, predominantly in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.
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He and his wife and two teenage children now live in Canary Wharf.
Mr Merry said: "I am very proud to call myself a Yeoman Warder as it is such a prestigious job, but I have had to get used to having my picture taken. The other Yeoman Warders have been extremely welcoming, friendly and helpful."
Often called Beefeaters, modern Yeoman Warders are descended from the ancient band of warders who had the responsibility of guarding the gates and royal prisoners. They are Extraordinary Members of the Queen's Bodyguard and are all former warrant officers from Her Majesty's Forces with an honourable service record of at least 22 years.