OBETuesday 17th May was a pretty big day for me. I had heard on New Year’s Eve about the OBE I was being honoured with and I heard in March that the date for the actual presentation (Investiture) was to be on the 17th May. This meant that the following weekends during March and April and indeed May leading up to 17th were spent searching for a dress, shoes, handbag and can you believe it, a hat! They had said hats were ‘preferable’ in the official invitation and I wanted to do the right thing. In the end I had to give in and go with the least worse option, being ever mindful that I had to look smart to meet Royalty.  The day itself started in fact the day before as we opted to stay overnight so that we could walk over to the Castle , it seemed most people had opted for this as we found out when we met all the other ‘hats’ accompanying their owners to the Castle gates. So, we had a nice meal then early to bed…now you may note, I have been saying ‘we’, this is because you are allowed to take just one other person with you to the Investiture and I chose my lovely mum (bearing in mind she was the most excited person on New Years Day when we told the family). You may also need to know at this point that my mum, although 93, styles herself on the late Queen Mother and believes she is at least 40 years younger than she really is. This information is important  as the next thing we had to do following breakfast (where I ate nothing and mum tucked into a full English!) was walk the 3 minutes to the Castle gates (not an issue). We were met by the very straight-faced gate guards, had our ID checked (it was okay as mum had her bus pass!), and started to walk up to the castle itself. Three hills later both mum and I arrived exhausted and I knew I had chosen the wrong shoes!  As we walked up the hill(s) we were greeted by friendly court staff who encouraged us along and told us it was ‘just round the corner’ a couple also offered to take photos for us which was really kind.


Once inside the castle it was all pomp and ceremony, we walked through some amazing rooms and on some super plush carpet. The people looking after us could not have been nicer and all the different honour categories were
sent into different rooms. After about half an hour of chatting with some pretty impressive people who were receiving their honours for amazing humanitarian endeavours, we were given an important briefing, this consisted of telling us where to walk, who to stand next to and then how to greet the Duke of Cambridge (Prince William). I listened carefully and then after some more small talk  the time had come and we were lined up to go to receive our honour. At this point a very lovely butler called George came over and said he would look after my mum and give her the best view in the house…she was delighted with her ‘Butler for the Day’. We dutifully queued and could only see when the person in front had their turn so it all then seemed a bit rushed in terms of learning what I was supposed to do. I was reminded of how to walk up to Prince William, keep my distance, turn, curtsey or bow and then walk up to him for him to pin on the medal. Then suddenly I was ‘on’, now it all turned into a blur, mum was whisked off by ‘George’ and I had to meet Prince William, I am sure I walked up okay, however I am pretty sure I forgot to curtsey or bow, I then had a very nice chat about the state of Social Care, where I managed to shoe horn in twice that Social Care was not as well off as the NHS, I was given the medal, shook hands (that was unexpected as I thought maybe covid had stopped all that touching) and then stepped back, I think at this point I may have bobbed a bit and nodded but I am not at all sure I managed either a bow or a curtsey as I was keen to make my exit. Phew! At least I hadn’t fallen over.

OBEI then met back up with mum, passed the beautiful orchestra and was escorted to the next room. We then had the official photos. Once finished I felt I could breathe again, we then were given plenty of time to walk through the adjoining rooms (no photos inside) while meeting even more lovely friendly staff who kept saying ‘congratulations’. The walk back down the hill was not nearly so stressful and I was met at the gate by my lovely family who kept taking photos and treating me like a celebrity, members of the public kept pointing at the funny lady in her hat (that was me). We relaxed soon after with a gin and tonic and then moved back to the hotel for a super Jubilee Afternoon Tea – during which I kept my hat on (making the most of the only time I will wear it ????). Finally, we had a walk along the river in the sunshine and then made our way home. I am pleased to say that I managed not to lose the medal and I have put it in a very safe place.

What a day!