In a previous news item it was reported that Jean Wight, vice chair and founder member of Headway North Cumbria had been nominated to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace. The invitation was in recognition of her outstanding and unstinting work with this charity since 2003, which supports people who have sustained a brain injury, their families and carers. Jean has gone beyond the call of duty in supporting the group and its members and has also raised thousands of pounds over the years by making greeting cards, selling home grown plants, baking and running raffles. She is one of those outstanding individuals who will go the extra mile to help someone in need.
Jean asked Val Lowe, a fellow volunteer, to accompany her. Val writes:
Summer frocks and hats were the order of dress on the day. Luckily the weather was warm with high clouds and lots of sunshine. We vaguely knew the direction of the Palace from Victoria and decided to walk there to arrive at 3pm as instructed, clutching our passports and other ID. A smart couple, the lady wearing a splendid hat, appeared to be heading in the same direction and so we followed them. To our horror when we turned around a large group of ladies was following us with the same idea – luckily we were all heading for the same destination.
We chose to enter the Buckingham Palace gardens by Grosvenor Place and were astounded by the long queue of people already waiting to be admitted. As you can imagine everything was highly organised and soon we were in the Palace gardens. A further walk along woodland paths by the lake led us to the huge lawn where the event was taking place. Afternoon tea was served from an enormous tent along one side of the lawn: tea, iced coffee or fruit juice was offered plus beautiful finger sandwiches, tiny savoury tarts, scones and minute cakes – the chocolate cakes had a golden crown stamped into a chocolate button on the top!
At 4pm precisely ‘God Save the Queen’ was played by the band of the Parachute Regiment and the Queen, accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, joined the party. For two hours the royal party mingled with the crowd talking to pre-arranged groups. The bodyguards had a novel way of keeping the public a reasonable distance away from them: they were dressed in morning suits and top hats carrying rolled up umbrellas which they held horizontally to stop people getting too close to the royal family. It was very unobtrusive and informal.
The afternoon sped by in a haze of unreality. The bands playing, the hum of the crowds talking. We found a couple of chairs and watched people from all over the world, some in national dress, some in official dress uniforms and others wearing beautiful elegant outfits. However, they were all there for a reason – in recognition that they had achieved something extra-ordinary and were being thanked by the Sovereign herself.
Well done Jean!