RECENTLY, I was in London to receive the British Citizens Award for Volunteering (BCAv).
It was a great feeling when my wife Lyn and I set out from our hotel to walk the 20 minutes or so to Parliament Square, so with the weather clear the opportunity presented itself to capture the sights of the city on our approach.
We were able to take in the wonderful sights of the River Thames, its bridges and of course the magnificence of The Palace of Westminster. Even though restoration work was under way with scaffolding and tarpaulins, some wonderful personal photographs were taken to remember this once-in-a-lifetime day.
On arrival at The House of Lords via Black Rod’s gardens, we entered the very special and privileged entrance of the Black Rod, whereupon rigorous security was in place to check our formal invitations, ID and belongings.
We proceeded to be escorted via the great hallways and courtyards of The House of Lords and The Palace of Westminster, finally arriving at the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace, overlooking the River Thames.
We were greeted by the Right Honorable the Lord Dholakia and joined the other 28 winners and their guests and sponsors for afternoon tea, taking our seats at designated tables awaiting receipt of our medals from our co-host, the TV presenter and entertainer Bradley Walsh.
Upon the medal presentation to each individual and sponsors’ speeches, all attendees were led to Parliament Square to board specially-branded BCA London open air double-decker buses to take a 45-minute lap of honour.
On returning, the BCA winners were assembled on the media green in front of the Palace of Westminster for group photographs and TV interviews. We were then led away to Church House, opposite The Palace, for further drinks and nibbles for a certificate presentation on stage in the assembly hall.
This comprised Bradley reviewing the medalists, in a style similar to This is Your Life.
We were interviewed with a chance to say something about our personal history and about the receipt of the award. It was an incredibly proud moment for me and a great honour, as well as an opportunity for me to thank the community and support I have received during the past 44 years, especially my wife Lyn.
It was a long day but was well worth the journey; certainly one of the best experiences in my life.