Before I set off for London, I was amazed at the pride people in Badminton on Teesside and my friends and family had shown, that one of their own had been honoured with my invitation to meet the Queen. The messages and phone calls I received made me realise that although I was going to London, I was representing Badminton, Marske Badminton Club, my family and Teesside and I must say I was proud to represent these people.
I had flown down to Gatwick on the Wednesday evening so Thursday morning 3rd November saw me on the Gatwick express to Victoria Station in my new suit and my Badminton England tiepin proudly displayed.
Before I had time to be nervous I was stood outside of Buckingham Palace with volunteers from all over the UK. The tourists were very surprised when a gate was opened and on presentation of our invitations and ID checks we were directed into the courtyard. People were talking our pictures through the railings. We were shown into the inner courtyard and welcomed into Buckingham Palace by the Master of the Household. We were then conducted up a wide and grand stairway to a series of very regal staterooms on the first floor. Drinks and refreshments were served and the guests mingled and chatted no one sure what would happen next. Then with no warning a door opened and Her Majesty entered the room and started chatting with people.
The whole occasion was very informal and relaxed. The Queen was making her way round the room stopping for a chat with everyone.
It came to my turn and Her Majesty asked my name and where I had come from, she shook my hand and I bowed as elegantly as my shaky legs would allow. I gave best wishes from the Members of Marske badminton Club, Teesside Badminton, and Badminton England and said what an honour it was for me to meet her, she smiled and thanked me.
She then asked what I did in Badminton. I explained I was one of a team of volunteers at Marske badminton Club and from Teesside Badminton Coaches Association who introduced young people to Badminton and provided a structure where they could develop there skills and enjoy a healthy sporting activity. Her majesty went on to say it was pleasing to see that young people were being encouraged and given the opportunity to learn and play badminton and to participate in healthy sporting activities in general, she also went on to say that schools no longer seemed to offer encouragement to children to participate in sport.
And then Her Majesty moved on. I had a conversation with the queen lasting somewhere between 30 seconds and 1 minute and how good did I feel.

It was only then that I realised that there were other members of the royal family and privy councillors circulating the rooms.
During the next hour I had conversations with Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Edward, Princess Alexandra, and Michael Howard.
In particular Princess Alexandra was absolutely charming and very interesting to talk to asking not only about what I did as a volunteer but also what my job was. I was talking to the princess for about 5 minutes and described to her how I believe I use my skills from my "day Job" in my role as a volunteer to good effect.

After about 2 hours in the Palace the reception was over and we all started making our way out.

My lasting impressions of the day?

Her Majesty had been absolutely charming, and gave every person she talked to a sense of feeling important.

The occasion had been very informal and a great deal of effort had gone into making us feel at ease.

The volunteers interacted very well with each other and were interested in what other people were doing in different parts of the country.

My only regret is my wife had not been there to share the day with me.

The day has made a lasting impression on me and will live in my memory for a very long time. It makes all the hours I have put into helping develop badminton very worthwhile.

Dave Knights
Marske Badminton Club



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