Helen’ MBE presented to her at Buckingham Palace

Helen Hibbert, the Good Neighbours coordinator was awarded an MBE earlier this year. Today (9th Oct 2015) she went to Buckingham Palace in glorious sunshine to receive her medal. We all congratulated her warmly at the recent  Annual General Meeting of CGN and we do so again today. Well done Helen, you deserve this recognition for all the hard work you have put in to make this organisation such a success

Here are Helen’s comments about the day:

What an amazing day on Friday at Buckingham Palace . Everything is so incredibly well organised, from the police checking your car before you drive through the gates, to us receiving directions every 20 paces from Palace staff. Once I went into a room with the other 60 or so recipients we were very politely told ” we don’t need any initiative from yourselves from this point on ” –  music to my ears for once !!!

The overwhelmingly atmosphere was one of genuine support and warm congratulations for yourself and your family. Even if they have carried out these Investitures a thousand times before you would never think it, as they focus on you, and gently direct your time with them, whilst giving you the feeling that there is all the time in the world for you to enjoy and savour the moment.  And savour you must …as the rooms and corridors are magnificent ; full of paintings, glorious artefacts and furniture…leaving a memory of so much opulence and grandeur.

In the main ballroom there is an orchestra playing throughout and even your guests are given directions such as ” no cheering or clapping please , even though they recognise how proud everyone is of their family member” . It is all quiet dignity and formal respect but not all so that it feels uncomfortable.

I met some interesting people who were also receiving Awards including a Headmistress from Scotland, a lady who had looked after pre adoption babies, a chap who actually worked at the Palace  and a lady from up the road in Hulme working with Youths/reducing violence…you can sense the nervousness and I had to work hard to control my own, which I did until  I reached the point where I was about to go into the main ballroom to receive the medal….talk about heart thumping..but once inside that room you know any minute it is your turn!

The highlight of course for me was being presented the medal by the Queen herself. Apparently she does not carry out many of the Investitures nowadays so we felt very blessed indeed. I was able to say that the Group had been going for nearly 50 years, with so many volunteers,  and it was now all about keeping people occupied and active. I recall her responding about ” it is easy to become isolated if you are indoors all the time ” and “everyone living so much longer”. It really helps that at that point you have your back to the main audience as it feels so easy having a conversation…only now can i think i was talking with the Queen of England!

After the ceremony, we all went out into the courtyard for the photos and luckily we were still there when the Beefeaters came out from the Palace and spent some time posing with recipients.

The sun was shining through out ..so couldn’t have been be more perfect. Just thank you to everyone who nominated me and gave me that chance to have an unforgettable day.

Here are some photos from the day in London

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Helen with her husband Frank and son Ky

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Helen’s other son Morgan had ruptured a calf muscle so couldn’t make the presentation. So Helen’s other guest was an old school friend also called Helen (pictured above) . Apparently the two Helens used to be known at school as Little & Large !

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Helen with a beefeater

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Helen with the medal