Sunday, 19 May 2024
Sunday, 19 May 2024

Bedfordshire residents to visit Buckingham Palace

A manager at a Bedfordshire residential service for learning disabled adults and a person she supports are ‘over the moon’ to be invited to the annual Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in May.

Claire Davies-Sond, Service Manager at 117 Hitchin Road in Shefford, a residential service run by learning disability charity Hft, and Jenny, who lives at the service, were in shock when they found out they’d been nominated by the charity to attend the event.

Claire said:

“What an opportunity to attend this special occasion on behalf of Hft and, more importantly, to share our experience with the rest of our household, creating something special for them too.

“When Jenny announced at the residents’ meeting recently that she was off to see the King with me, there were lots of cheers and genuine happiness and excitement from staff and residents. Jenny’s mum couldn’t believe it and even before it was confirmed, we had both started dress shopping!”

However, far more important for Claire was how she could create a day to remember for everyone at the service.

She said:

“That same night, I started thinking and got the team involved. So began Project Palace … if all of 117 couldn’t go to afternoon tea at the Palace, then the afternoon with a Palace feel would come to them in our own grounds.

“So far we have sourced enough tables to ensure tea for two on each, cake stands, trifle dishes, trays, tea sets, red/white/blue chair sashes, a red carpet, and cardboard cut-outs of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Our staff are also dressing up as members of the Royal Family so our residents can shake hands with each and curtsy. Two parents have agreed to be ‘King and Queen’.”

On the day itself, 8 May, Claire and Jenny are hoping to Facetime all the people who live at the service so they can enjoy the experience together.

Hft nominated Claire for the treat because of all the positivity she brings to her work and everything she and her staff have done to make the service so special. Jenny loves the Royal family and loves looking through magazines to read news of each member, while her dad has met the Princess Royal via Hft as she is the charity’s Patron.

Jenny’s mum, Jane, is equally delighted for her daughter. She said:

“When Claire first told us that she had been nominated to go to Buckingham Palace, we were delighted for her. Jenny has lived at 117 Hitchin Road for 39 years and has seen a number of managers come and go.

“Claire and her staff are the best team we have ever known. We felt this nomination was well deserved. In fact, the whole team deserve to go. We also heard that Jenny had been nominated to go to the Palace with Claire. Jenny was very excited since she had seen Buckingham Palace from the railings on numerous visits to London. She was even more excited when she opened the actual invitation to a royal garden party.”


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