As many of you will know, Dennis Slaughter has now been given his "gong" by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Amazingly his family managed to drag him away from Lyng and his nephew Andrew, who accompanied him, has kindly written an account of the day.....
Dennis had originally asked my mum (Joan) and dad (Colin) to go with him (and Chrissie) to the Palace but they thought it would be too much for them. He then asked if Sue and I would help with the arrangements and that was an unexpected.
Chrissie "compelled " Dennis to buy a new suit, shirt, tie and shoes which cheered him up no end! We travelled to London on Wednesday 30th May, the day before the investiture. Instead of taking the train we opted for the National Express coach service that delivered us to London Victoria coach station, not far from our hotel. As it was early afternoon we took Dennis for a "flight" on the London Eye and afterwards for a meal.
We booked a hire car for 9.30am on Thursday morning to make sure we got to the palace on time. Getting around London, particularly The Mall and Palace area, was quite difficult because many roads were closed for the Queen's Jubilee celebrations planned for that weekend. Luckily we had a pass that we could "flash" and be allowed through the road blocks (you need to make sure that this VIP treatment hasn't gone to his head!!!!).
We arrived at the gates and were ushered through them and into the Palace. Inside, as you can imagine, were red carpets, sumptuous furniture and artwork and with members of the Household Cavalry lining the corridors. Dennis was separated from us at this point. He went off with the other recipients (107 others, each receiving various awards) whilst guests were seated in the Ballroom to wait for the ceremony to start. A military orchestra provided background music from the balcony. (No doubt Dennis was reminded of his time in the Londonderry "ack ack" Regiment !!).
Beefeaters and Gurkha's preceded Prince Charles (and ceremonial aides) into the Ballroom. The National Anthem was played and after Prince Charles said a few word of welcome before the ceremony started. Each of the the recipients was called forward by name and a brief summary of the achievements read out. Prince Charles spent a minute or two chatting to each recipient before awarding the medal and shaking hands. The whole ceremony lasted almost 2 hours. Dennis was in the last Group to be called and he performed flawlessly, He walked (as best as he could) up to Prince Charles, briefly bowed his head and then had a chat and it seemed a reasonably long chat. After shaking hands Dennis retreated, bowed once more and then joined us to watch the rest of the ceremony.
As you know Dennis's hearing is not exactly sharp, but he was wearing his hearing aid. Nevertheless I still haven't found out what Prince Charles said to him!
Afterwards the official portraits were taken but Dennis was getting tired by then. (Ed. - he was probably getting bored because there were no bikes about)