Royal Garden Party

posted by: Margaret Harvey | on: Sunday, 29 May 2016, 08:46

Margaret and Bob Harvey at the Royal Garden Party

Margaret and Bob Harvey at the Royal Garden Party

Bob and I were nominated to the Lord Leiutenant of Essex to attend a Royal Garden Party by Havens Hospices, because between us we have completed nearly 40 years as volunteers. I started soon after my father died in Fair Havens in 1993 in various admin roles, finally settling in Finance, Bob joined me in 2001 as he retired and I became Diocesan Secretary. As well as our roles in cash counting for Finance, Bob has, since 2001, converted almost £20,000 of foreign coins into sterling.

We had to wait until March for confirmation that our nomination had been successful and we duly received our official invitations for the one on May 10th. This turned out to be the only wet one! Along with the invitations and details of dress code for the gents as well as the ladies, we were pleased to get a parking permit for The Mall. Our son had offered to take a day's leave and drive us up, but that wasn't necessary. There was much excitement about choosing an outfit, not a new one, and getting Bob's tails hired and then on the day we went to Havens and had a photo call for their in-house magazine and we were on our way. Parking in The Mall was allowed from 12.30 and although we had hoped to arrive about then, the traffic once past Newham was not good and we finally arrived at 1.30p.m. It then poured, so we stayed in the car until the gates opened at 3.00p.m and we joined the queue passing security and going through the Palace into the garden. This takes a little organising as there are 8,000 at each Royal Garden Party.

In the information sent to us, we had been told that cameras were not allowed, even those on phones, but as soon as we entered you could see that everyone was snapping away very happily on phone cameras. Bob and I each took each other and then I spotted a group of 4 with Mayoral chains taking groups of 3 at a time, so I offered to take one of the four together if they would take us. They were delighted and the photo with this article was taken by them. They asked where we were from and I said Essex representing Havens Hospices, they were so pleased as they were from Castle Point and Little Haven is within Castle Point and they all knew it well. We then wondered down to the Lake and viewed the gardens beyond, it was really getting a little damp by then, so when the tea tent opened we went to get our rations, which were delicious. Luckily we spotted two chairs in the semicircle around the Royal Tea Tent, this was as big as a cricket pitch so no close ups, but at least we were seated.

At 4p.m. promptly the National Anthem announced that the Queen was on the terrace and she slowly made her way through the lines of people who were standing to see her, speaking to several pairs who had been picked beforehand. We stood by our seats in the slowly worsening weather until she passed through the guard of Yeomen of the Guard into the Royal Tea Tent. The rest of the guests came slowly behind her and I could pick out Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and I think his mother, the Dowager Duchess of Gloucester. It was really pouring by now and very cold, but we were interested in the people around us and knew that the Queen would leave at 6 signalling the end of the event. She actually came out of the tent at 5.10 so then we made our way back through the Palace and into our car. The journey home was easier and we had time to reflect on the pleasure of being nominated by Havens Hospices, they have hundreds of volunteers, and then the excitement of getting the invitation. The icing on the cake would have been the wonderful weather that existed for the two weeks either side, but it was still an amazing day.

 Posted: 29 May 2016 | There are 0 comments

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