In the lead up to national Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June), two lucky St Clare volunteers were invited to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on 23 May in recognition of their service to the Hastingwood-based charity.
More than 450 volunteers donate their time to St Clare, and each year two privileged volunteers are chosen to represent the Hospice at the Royal Garden Party. This year, St Clare’s Voluntary Services Manager, Rob Wallace, was tasked with pulling two lucky names ‘out of the hat’.
The fortunate two were Dawn Clark, 73, who lives in Loughton and has volunteered at Scarlet, St Clare’s Buckhurst Hill charity shop, for 4 years. Accompanying her was St Clare Day Therapy volunteer of 3 years, Val Jones, 64, who lives in Harlow.
“I was so surprised when I got the call to tell me that I was going to Buckingham Palace. I actually bought my jacket for the event from the St Clare shop where I volunteer! I started volunteering at the shop after my husband died, and I’ve met so many people in a similar situation to me. If it were not for St Clare, I don’t know what I’d do – it’s like a big family. I do everything with the friends I’ve made at St Clare – we even go on holiday together. They’ve all been texting me and wishing me a lovely day at the palace today!”
Arriving at the Hospice on the day of the royal party, Val said:
“I think that when we get to the palace, we’ll be walking around with hundreds of other people trying to spot Prince Harry! Both Dawn and I realise that we are extremely lucky, that out of the hundreds of St Clare volunteers, we were chosen to attend. It’s wonderful to be invited to Buckingham Palace for such a prestigious occasion. I even bought my new outfit for today from Oxford Street with the help of my own personal shopper!”
The royal celebration started off here at the Hospice where Dawn and Val were collected by their own personal chauffeur, Steve Ponton. Steve, a Daniel Robinson and Sons employee, continued the business’ annual tradition of voluntarily driving the St Clare volunteers to Buckingham Palace in a saloon car.
Rob Wallace, St Clare’s Voluntary Services Manager, commended Daniel Robinson and Sons yearly commitment and said:
“For more than 10 years, Daniel Robinson and Sons has been generously volunteering to drive our volunteers from the Hospice into London on the day of the Royal Garden Party, providing Prosecco and a tour around London before dropping them off at the palace gates. The private chauffeur-driven ride just completes the whole day for our volunteers, and makes it incredibly special for them.”