Charity boss speak of 'unique' and 'humbling' experience of royal visit
The leader of a Bolton charity has spoken the “humbling” experience of meeting the Queen Consort on Friday.
Dr Gill Smallwood MBE, chief executive of domestic abuse charity Fortalice, was present at the celebrations of the town hall’s 150-year anniversary and had the chance to speak with Queen Camilla and discuss the vital work the charity does.
“It felt very humbling to be invited,” she said.
“I had met the Queen Consort last year at another event so to be able to continue that conversation was brilliant because she’s clearly got an interest in the work. Any arena that we can talk about domestic abuse is always really helpful for anyone who might be suffering.
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“We were talking about our work. I shared a young boy’s story - very briefly because there were quite a lot of people in that room – but she clearly had an admiration of the work that we do with victims and survivors of domestic abuse.”
“To be able to share the work and bring domestic abuse to the forefront, particularly in that arena and because it is a very difficult topic for people to talk about, just gives people an opportunity to come forward because we are talking about it.”
Gill says that they also chatted about how long Fortalice has been going – it’s their 45th birthday this year – to which Queen Camilla remarked on that fact that they were “clearly one of the early ones”.
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Fortalice were among several of Bolton’s many organisations to be on show on the day.
Gill added: “It was great to see the other grassroots organisations that were in there and able to share their stories and their experiences of what’s they’re up to in the community.
“They were very much interested in what’s going on in the local community and I just thought that was wonderful to see.”
In an “amazing day”, Gill felt that there was a real buzz around the town, the like of which she has not experienced previously.
She said: “It all started for me as I walked around the town hall square and saw people starting to queue and the vibrancy.
READ MORE: Fortalice's Gill Smallwood recognised for services to domestic violence victims
“One person in particular was an old lady that was stood near the barrier at the very front and it just really touched me to see that excitement and people stood waiting.
“It was just a really unique experience and feeling that felt really, really positive.”
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