A Royal day out for our Geoff
Published on: 30 Mar 2017
A Royal day out for our Geoff
A couple of months ago we reported that Horfield’s Geoff Stock had been awarded an MBE for services to young people and to the community in Horfield, Bristol.
We are delighted to report that Geoff has been to Buckingham Palace where he was awarded his MBE by Her Majesty The Queen.
Geoff says, “I couldn’t believe it – and I didn’t. Letters like that didn’t go to ordinary blokes like me. It was a joke, a scam. Or was it? I re-read the letter which had dropped moments ago on my doormat. I had to admit, if it was a scam it was a pretty good one.
There was a number to ring if you had any questions – so what’s to lose? I rang the number, and within moments was certain the letter, after all, was genuine. The receptionist was polite, gracious – and convincing.
So it was true. I had been nominated for an MBE, “for services to young people and to the community in Horfield, Bristol”. Gulp.
It wasn’t until the New Year, of course, after the official announcement, that I discovered who had been kind enough to nominate me. Anne Cox in 2009 and then Dorothy Nicholls in 2014 had both given an unbelievable amount of time and energy compiling applications on my behalf. I am so indebted to these ladies.
The nomination had largely focused on the forty-plus years I have led Horfield Young People’s Club. Then on Friday evening, 27th January 2017, I arrived at club on Wellington Hill, as usual, only to be totally astonished by a wonderful surprise party arranged for me by an amazing team of ladies. It was a wonderful party, and I shall long remember all those friends, some from many years past, who helped make it so. A very big thank you to all who came, especially those lovely people who laid it on!
The date for the Investiture was set for Tuesday, March 7th. The ceremony was to begin at 11, and so we needed to be at the Palace – yes, it was to be held at Buckingham Palace, in itself a cause for great excitement – between 10 and 10.15am. Sadly Anne couldn’t come, but my brother Pete calmly and efficiently drove Dorothy, her husband Martin and myself to the Palace. We were all up between 4 and 5, on the road before 6 and at Reading Services by 7.20.
As expected the approach to the City of London was increasingly fraught; nevertheless, super-cool Pete managed to get us to the Palace dead on ten. The car was routinely checked before we entered the Palace precinct and parked in the forecourt. The legendary Beefeaters flanked the entrance to the Palace, and courteous attendants then directed us to the cloakroom, where we left coats and mobile phones. Guests were then led to the Ballroom, while recipients were directed to a lavish reception room to await instructions before the ceremony.
Then came the real surprise. It was to be Her Majesty herself who would perform the honours. Perfect day!
Everything was arranged to the minutest detail, and the attendant who instructed us even introduced humour to put us at ease. Nonetheless, for the next hour, waiting to “go on” I had a nagging stomach ache. Wonder why? But as my turn came closer I came to “get a grip, man!” I told myself, “this is it, smile!”
It worked. As I approached Her Majesty I was far more focused on her than on myself. The attendant whispered relevant information in her ear, as I bowed from the neck and approached our radiant monarch. “Services to young people and to the community in Horfield, Bristol?” was her cordial greeting. “Yes, your majesty. 42 years leading a club for children and young people”. Her glowing smile said it all, and as she stretched out her hand to shake mine, it was indeed a moment to cherish.
The Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra beautifully yet unobtrusively accompanied the event from the balcony of the Ballroom, lavish in pink and gold. And as we left for photographs in the Palace forecourt we all agreed it had been a very special day to remember.
Sixty-five years a Queen, and over ninety. Yet still, as I had stood before her, she had connected and responded as if I were the only person on the planet. Here indeed, a person of character, sincerity and faith.
Thank you, Ma’am, for making our day. A day we shall never forget”.