On the evening of the 8th February, I had the greatest honour to represent our very own Mersea Island Lions Club at Buckingham Palace.
We were invited by her Royal Highness, Sophie the Countess of Wessex who became patron of the Lions Clubs of the British Isles in 2004. The occasion being to mark 100 years of Lions Clubs International.
I was one of 350 individual Lions who came to The Palace. I shall never forget the freezing cold wind and snow coming through the great iron gates of the palace with the dancing snow in the courtyard swirling in the air like something out of the film FROZEN.
As I ascended the great staircase where many Royals including her Majesty The Queen had walked, I suddenly realised “This is real”, I am here in Buckingham Palace representing Mersea Island Lions and of course, Mersea Island.
I will skip the excitement that I felt when I was in the grandest cloakroom I have ever seen. I was shown in to the best known room in Buckingham Palace, The Throne Room, with its spectacular chandeliers and tapestries.
Although we were all wearing name badges, these did not say where we were from, so I made my way around introducing myself and asking where fellow Lions were from. The waiters were very kind and drinks became plentiful. After my third drink of Elderflower (non-alcoholic), I became known as the elderflower lady, but I did end up having one glass of wine.
As I wound my way down towards where the two important chairs (thrones) were, her Royal Highness walked right by me with a smile and a nod and went to the lectern and prepared for her speech.
Her Royal Highness started by welcoming us all to the Palace on such a cold snowy night. Before Countess Sophie went further into her speech, she had a confession to make, and, with a giggle, she said that she and another member of the Royal Family were watching us trailing across the courtyard with our boots, coats and hats which made us appear all in black looking like something from a film set. She had turned to another member of the Royal Family saying “There go My Brave Lions”. Countess Sophie gave a wonderful speech thanking all her clubs for our hard work and dedication and explained that she was only the fairy on top of the Christmas Tree.
Past International Director, Lion Phil Nathan, responded to this saying what our clubs worldwide do. He then went on to present the Highest Award that a Lion can receive, The Mervyn Jones Fellowship. Countess Sophie was lost for words but replied saying thank you so much and repeated that she was only the Fairy on top of the Christmas Tree.
The Countess made her way through the great hall. I was so close to her, watching and listening, a beautiful Lady in every way. She wore a simple sea green satin dress with a black bolero and black very high heeled shoes.
In Sophie, The Countess of Wessex, all present had something special to remember.
Mersea Island was put on the map that evening and I am honoured to have been part of it.
– Lion Christine Chamberlain, MJF. Past President Mersea Island Lions Club.
Footnote – Official photos have not yet been available from The Palace.