Mentor and trustee Simon travelled to London with peer mentor Bradley to attend a Royal Garden Party on behalf of Mentoring Plus, in recognition of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service given to the charity. So… how did their day go?
“12:43 and the Paddington train, comfortable first class courtesy of Great Western; both of us suited in shades of blue, Brad’s kindly loaned by Moss Bros in Milsom St. Taxi to the Palace, no buses or tubes for us today, where I decide small change cannot be allowed to spoil the lines of my suit and so give our cabbie a preposterously large tip which he at least has the decency to blink at.
Join queue and get first glance at finery worn by both women and men; quite quickly pass through security into the Grand Entrance and then through to the huge Quadrangle where first pics are permitted, then through some impressive State Rooms and onto the Terrace and down into the hugest garden you have ever seen. Main tea tent, Royal Tent and Diplomatic Tent plus two military Bands playing on two stands, though happily not at the same time. Get our bearings and wander around the Gardens – lake, wooded area and, for me at least, a glorious Rose Garden where miraculously the flowers are in glorious bloom (though not as smelly as mine I fancy).
4 o’clock on the dot the Royal Party led by Prince Charles and Princess Anne appear on the Terrace, National Anthem and then the walk through the ‘lanes’ begins. Immaculately attired and hatted Gentlemen of the Household gather a small selection of guests to be presented; we are among the lucky ones and Brad and I are presented to the Duke of Gloucester, youngest grandson of George V and cousin to the Queen. Pleasant conversation about mentoring and Mentoring Plus during which I say Sir far too often and think I may have mildly contradicted him; maybe they’ll take me to the Tower later.
Then TEA, and what a tea! Everything you would expect from delicate cucumber and mint sandwiches through a variety of mini cakes including even a Victoria Sponge and culminating in a little chocolate number with a gold crown on top. A little more wandering, people watching and it was nearly over.
5:45 pm on the dot the Royal Party, accompanied by the Yeomen of the Guard in their wonderful uniforms, leave to genteel clapping, get into their various limousines with and without the Royal Standard and glide away. As do we though not so elegantly. Back to Paddington, a quick drink and then sink into those lovely first class seats, and home.
A bit of a do on a perfect summer’s day indeed, and one for the memory books.”
Huge thanks to Simon and Brad for all their work and for representing all our brilliant volunteers to mark this QAVS, the organisational equivalent of an MBE, in recognition of 20 years of volunteer mentoring for young people facing challenges.