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MANY an Island face could be found at Buckingham Palace over the last two weeks — at garden parties, in recognition of their contributions to the community.
Among those to be nominated by Lord Lieutenant, Susie Sheldon, and receive an invitation from the Lord Chamberlain was Councillor Paul Brading.
He and Sue Smith were nominated for their success with the Isle of Wight MS Society, which received a Queen's Award for voluntary service in 2020.
Paul is the chair, and Sue is the finance volunteer and secretary.
The pair visited the palace yesterday (Wednesday) — a scorchingly hot day.
"The garden parties the year after were cancelled, but three months ago, we got an email to say they were trying to catch up on the ones they missed because of Covid," said Paul.
"We were there representing the Isle of Wight MS Society.
"It was amazing to be in the garden at Buckingham Palace alongside 8,000 others, all smartly dressed and really proud to be there.
"The three royals — Kate Middleton, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex — spent nearly two hours interacting with the public.
"It was an absolute honour — a once in a lifetime experience.
"I could reach out and shake Kate's hand, she was that close to us.
"She's just so lovely, and kind, and caring. She's just a normal person, doing a great job for the country.
"The royals were really humble, and pleased to talk to the public. It wasn't a chore for them.
"It was blazingly hot and they were happy to stop and chat — they looked like they were enjoying it as well.
"Everyone felt like they were part of something special. It was a very good atmosphere, the food was amazing — beautifully catered, and plenty of it.
"It made you proud to be British, to be honest."
Another to be invited was Paddy McHugh, who visited the palace last week.
Paddy suspects he was invited in recognition of his work with Newport Carnival.
The party was hosted by Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Princess Anne.
He went alongside Claire Critchison, chair of the Isle of Wight Council, and his sister, Julie Gorman.
"It was certainly an experience, though we had the unfortunate wet weather," said Paddy.
"It was absolutely belting it down, but everyone got on with it. We enjoyed the food and listened to the music.
"I got a letter in February, saying I'd been nominated to go.
"I'm guessing it's because I've done the carnivals on the Island for the last 37 years.
"I was 15 when I started, and I'm now chair of Newport Carnival.
"I work for Island Roads during the day.
"I'm a high visibility jacket and trousers boy normally, so having to wear a suit was a bit out of my comfort zone, but it was lovely."
Claire Critchison said: "It was rather a damp day but an amazing experience and wonderful to be in the Palace Gardens and see Prince Charles.
"As a caterer I was most interested in the food and getting some royal tips for future event catering.
"As an ambassador for the Isle of Wight it was a good opportunity to talk people about the Island and its superb features, including the award winning Isle of Wight Tomatoes."
Sports photographer, Michael Paler, also visited the palace on Wednesday, May 11, with his wife, Glenys.
Michael led the East Cowes and Whippingham Covid Support Hub during the outbreak.
"It was very wet," said Michael.
"But it was so slick, the way it was organised.
"Everyone was getting off the train in their suits and followed the fascinators to Buckingham Palace Road.
"It was all very high security, but once you were inside, it was incredible.
"There were no queues, it was all very efficient.
"Because I'd seen all the royals before, I went off and looked at all the gardens.
"You'll never get that chance again, so I made the most of it.
"It was a very memorable experience. I saw Chris Whitty, and heard so many fascinating stories.
"I spoke to people who had done amazing things all over the country, and people from the Commonwealth as well."
Tony McCarthy was another to receive an invitation, and visited the palace with his wife, Sarah.
Tony has worked for Ventnor Town Council for ten years as a community development officer.
He also organised Ventnor Day, and was part of the consortium that successfully bid to deliver the Living Well project.