Earlier this year, CTA was approached by the Department for Transport and asked to nominate CTA members to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. We put a number of names forward and were excited to hear that Ashley Keane from Out and About Community Transport, Linda Cox from Shrewsbury Dial a Ride, and Brian Smith, formally of Volunteer Cornwall, all received invitations.
Whether its community transport providers being invited to Downing Street, hardworking volunteers and staff being awarded MBEs, or being invited to have tea with the Queen, it’s always exciting to see community transport being recognised. We caught up with Ashley and Linda who shared their thoughts on the Garden Party.
Ashley Keane, Out and About Community Transport
The excitement was building as we arrived at Victoria Station. Whilst grabbing a cheeky glass of wine before the big event we watched the crowds coming and going, spotting those who might also be attending a Garden Party. The fascinators, hats, top hats and tails were a big giveaway that they too were heading somewhere special!
As we entered the palace it was truly breath-taking, everything sitting to perfection, sheer luxury and extravagance finished in the most refined manner. Then, as we went out onto the balcony through the crowds and down the steps into the sprawling gardens, masses of people were gathered and there was an unforgettable buzz in the air, everyone waiting to see who would appear. Then finally the Queen appeared in her beautiful pink outfit attended by Price Harry and followed by an entourage of others.
The place went quiet for the National Anthem, you could have heard a pin drop…all those people and not a sound, it was so surreal. Then the buzz intensified as the Queen, Prince Harry and the others made their way through the crowd with everyone jockeying to get the prize picture before they entered the Royal Tea Tent.
In the marquee we sampled the tea, sandwiches and cakes on offer, absolutely delicious, as well as getting to meet and hear the stories of some of the other guests. We truly had a memorable day, one that will stay with us for a very long time. We’d like to sincerely thank CTA for providing us with this exceptional opportunity to attend the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace!
Linda Cox, Shrewsbury Dial a Ride
I run Shrewsbury Dial a Ride and through the Community Transport Association my husband and I were lucky enough to have the honour and privilege of being invited to a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace! It’s believed that Royal Garden Parties have been held since the 1860’s. These days around 8,000 guests attend each one and consume approximately 27,000 cups of tea and 20,000 sandwiches and slices of cake!
We arrived at Buckingham palace at around 3:00pm and joined the queue to get in! Everyone was very friendly and comparing notes as to why we were there in the best dressed queue in London!
As one would expect, the grounds were lovely with a variety of common or usual trees and shrubs and throughout the party two brass bands entertained us with a range of popular tunes. We suspected that the musicians had dressed for the occasion and donned their thermals as their playing was immaculate despite the cold! Although we mingled with the crowd we didn’t meet or see anyone we knew until I bumped into Ashley Keane from Out and About Community Transport whilst queuing for the loo! Her beautiful orange dress was the giveaway.
Tea was served at around 4:30 and was very welcome! We had finger sandwiches, wraps, beautiful fruitcake, lovely little fruit tarts and tiny doughnuts served with hot tea, of course, or a soft drink. Bizarrely, and despite the cold, ice cream was also served to the hardier guests! We left the party just before it was due to end in order to be sure of getting a cab back to our hotel. When we got back a couple of glasses of wine soon warmed our spirits after a wonderful (but chilly) experience!
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