TARVIN WI - President's visit to London

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On Tuesday 2nd June 2015 I attended the WI Centenary Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
The party left Tarvin at 7.30 am, picking up others at Tarporley and Nantwich. There was a full coach of excited ladies, with a lot of chatter and loads of laughter.

We made our way towards London and eventually had a final stop at Beaconsfield Service Station. It was fascinating to watch the ladies get off the coach, carrying suit bags and hats. Half an hour later they emerged dressed in their finest, complete with headgear, which was being carefully held on as the wind at that point of the day was quite strong.

We continued our journey towards the Mall. As we approached, queues of ladies were forming outside the entrance gates to the Palace. We were to enter via the Mall Gates and took up our position in the queue. The atmosphere was electric with everyone wanting to know where the ladies they were standing by had come from and how long they had travelled to get there. We had to produce evidence of identity, such as a passport or bus pass, before being allowed in through the gates.

Eventually we entered and were given the red carpet treatment into Buckingham Palace. Looking down from the Terrace it was a real wow factor to see the fashions and 8000 people milling around. The queue for the loos was quite a sight to behold! (ed: see photograph)

The stewards advised us to stand in an 'S' format to welcome their Royal Highnesses The Duchess of Cornwall and Sophie, Countess of Essex, who would do a walk about towards the Royal Tent. After watching them arrive we sang God Save the Queen, accompanied by two military bands, then went to have afternoon tea with, of course, cucumber sandwiches as a must. I wondered what they did with all the crusts because they had catered for 8000 ladies.
We then walked around the lake and gardens, not a weed to be seen — I do not think they would dare show themselves through the royal soil..

The afternoon went very quickly and we were due to be back at the coaches by 5.45 pm. Typically our coach was right at the far end of the Mall but the walk was good fun and we got to see The Duchess of Cornwall returning home and she gave us a lovely wave.

Eventually everyone returned to the coach and off we went back to Chester. Lovely day and something to remember, but my WI Centenary Celebration had not ended as I returned to London the next day by train to attend the AGM at The Royal Albert Hall. The AGM was on Thursday June 5th but we went a day early and spent the time sightseeing and going to see Wicked at the Apollo Theatre in the evening.

The next day it was time to tackle the underground and find our way to the Albert Hall, that was FUN as it was in the morning rush hour and extremely busy. The AGM started at 10.30am and the morning session was attended by Her Majesty the Queen, Princess Anne and Sophie, Countess of Essex. On their arrival we sang God Save the Queen and Jerusalem, what a thrill to sing them with the organ at the Royal Albert Hall and 7000 ladies. It brought a tear to my eyes. After opening the meeting and listening to the official business of the day

The Royal Party left the stage to cut the centenary cake and have some lunch.
At lunchtime most of the ladies took a picnic to Hyde Park, crossing the road bringing London Traffic to a standstill as an orderly path of ladies continued to cross, despite the green man turning to red.

The afternoon session consisted of guest speaker Baroness Grey -Thompson DBE, Live link to other Federations, followed by Guest Speaker Helena Morrissey CBE., and a Project Fashion Show. The delegates ended the afternoon session by singing God Save the Queen, the Welsh National Anthem, and Jerusalem.

My few days ended with a train journey back to Crewe and home.

Both events will be a lasting memory, and if you get the chance to go to either it is well worth the effort.