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Parish Nurse honored at Buckingham Palace.

Not everyone has had the privilege of shaking hands with Her Majesty, The Queen!!

On Wednesday, the 16th of May, I was one of 94 people who attended an Investiture as a Member of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace. Twenty-two of these events are held each year, 20 in London, one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, and one at Cardiff Castle.

The Queen entered the Ballroom accompanied by two Gurkha Orderly Officers who were at the double. Also on duty were members of The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeoman of the Guard, in their striped uniforms, and the Lord Chamberlain. In spite of all the formality, the atmosphere was very friendly, with everyone telling you to enjoy yourself and not be nervous!

I certainly felt a bit overawed when, halfway up the Grand Staircase, I had to go off to the right while my guests carried on up into the Ballroom. I joined all the other recipients and we were instructed as to what we had to do when presented. We were then left to watch a film of one of last years' Investitures and to practice our curtsies!

We were called through to the ceremony in groups of about 15, I was in the third group and, by the time that I was in a queue with only three people ahead of me, I was very nervous. I then discovered that the lady behind me had family in the next village so I reflected on what a small world it is!

Then it was my turn! I walked forward to stand beside the Lord Chamberlain who whispered "I will tap you when it is time to move." At this signal I took three paces forward, turned, curtsied, then forward another three paces until I was standing in front of The Queen. She took my award, the Member of the British Empire, from a velvet cushion, pinned it on my chest and said " I understand you are a district nurse?" What an opportunity! "Yes, Ma'am, but I am also a Parish Nurse, working within the Church of England."


She then asked if I had been nursing a long time to which I agreed! She offered me her hand and I noticed that her handshake included a slight pressure backwards to remind me that I had to walk backwards 3 paces before curtsying again. I was then led around to the back of the ballroom so that I could join the other recipients as we watched the rest of the ceremony. The whole thing was accompanied by the Orchestra of the Scots Guards who played a very varied selection of music.

At the end of the ceremony The Queen was again accompanied by the Gurkhas as she left the Ballroom but the rest of the members of the Royal Household stayed as we joined our guests again. Then it was out into the sunshine in the Inner Quadrangle for the official photographs. And then we found ourselves outside Buckingham Palace with all the tourists looking through the railings AT US!!

So we gave them a royal wave before leaving! What a day! It still seems like a fairy tale but the photos show that it really happened.

Sue Evans, MBE, District Nursing Sister, is a parish nurse in Burwell, UK You can e-mail her at
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Author:Evans, Sue
Publication:Parish Nurse Perspectives
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 22, 2007
Previous Article:Separated by miles, joined by care.
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