Posted: 07 July 2017

A grand invitation

Helen Tate has spent the last four years travelling across the country to promote our campaigns, raise children’s issues with the government and speak up for the vulnerable young people that we work with. Last month her outstanding contributions were recognized…by the Queen.

I was shocked, surprised and extremely honoured when I was invited to the Queen’s Garden Party.

It had been over 30 years since I had last visited London, so to be invited to one of its most iconic tourist destinations was going to be a visit to remember forever.

My work as a volunteer speaker

As a volunteer speaker, I travel to many venues all over the country to promote and campaign for the work done by The Children’s Society. I simply enjoy utilising my experience and skills to help improve the lives of young people.

I do not expect anything in return for the work I do, but to receive an email on the morning of the Garden Party from CEO, Matthew Reed, thanking me for my contributions, was lovely.

A fairytale setting

My uncomplaining husband loaded up with cases, hat box, suit carriers and of course my hair dryer, shoes and bag, trawled through the crowded underground network. We were up early, breakfast and out into the capital’s sunlight to have a look around at the sights. 

We returned to our hotel room to change for the big event, before setting off to Buckingham Palace.

‘it was magical; just like a fairytale setting’

I was stunned by the beautiful gardens and immaculate lawns.  I could not believe a city was on the outside of these walls. We were encircled in a wonderland.  White crisp marquees could be seen in the background and flashes of red from the band. The English summer sun was beating down - it was magical; just like a fairytale setting. 

I really just could not believe I was in the Queen’s garden, strolling around the grounds, drinking barley water, having my picture taken by a tree planted by King George V. it was absolutely unreal.

Civilised queues were formed for afternoon tea of finger sandwiches, smoked salmon tarts and cakes - all beautifully served on china plates by immaculately dressed staff who were so happy to help.

The royal party

At 4 o’clock the band of the Royal Marines struck up the national anthem as the Queen entered the gardens from Buckingham Palace steps. Prince Philip looked marvelous at her side. 

As we emerged from the main entrance of the palace, throngs of tourists were taking pictures at the other side of the railings and for just a few seconds they had no idea who we were - but it felt very important, and I have to say it was.

I had just seen our Queen, I had just been in the garden at Buckingham Palace and most of all it was an honour and a privilege when speaking with people to tell them I was there because I volunteer for The Children’s Society.

The invitation sits proudly framed in my living room as a reminder of the day.

What an experience! Thank you.


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