Royal Garden Party date for hospice volunteers

OFF TO THE GARDEN PARTY: Jan Final (left) and Betty Newton.

OFF TO THE GARDEN PARTY: Jan Final (left) and Betty Newton. - Credit: Archant

HOSPICE volunteers Jan Final and Betty Newton were off to Buckingham Palace on Thursday (June 6) for a Royal Garden Party with the Queen.

Jan, Harlow, and Betty, from Arkesden, were selected by the St Clare Hospice to attend the party to mark their service to the charity.

Jan, who currently helps in the voluntary services section, has been a volunteer for 14 years and Betty an Inpatient Unit volunteer, has helped out for the last seven years.

It wasn’t the first time either have rubbed shoulders with royalty: Jan was at the hospice when the Countess of Wessex visited in 2011 as part of the hospice’s 21st birthday celebrations, and Betty met The Queen, the late Princess of Wales and other royals when they attended a high-society wedding in her village in 1988.

Both ladies became volunteers for St Clare after their husbands passed away.

Former postmistress Betty said: “I used to come to the Hospice with my late husband, Ray, who had motor neurone disease.

“The sessions helped Ray but the Hospice helped me too and once I was ready I helped out in day care. Now I work one day a week in the Inpatient unit helping with lunches and getting drinks for the patients and talking to them. I love it – all my friends know not to arrange anything for Fridays because that’s when I’m at the hospice!”

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Jan, who used to work in the lost property office at Harlow Police Station, said: “Volunteering at St Clare has given me friends and a life after Eric.

“Working here I met a lady in the same position as me, widowed, and we went away for the dreaded first New Year’s Eve together. We’ve been friends ever since and still go on holiday together.”

Jan and Betty were picked up from the hospice on Thursday morning in a chauffeured car, courtesy of Daniel Robinson & Sons.

Voluntary services manager Chris Crump said: “Every year we are lucky to receive two tickets to the Royal Garden Party and we’re delighted that Jan and Betty represented us this year. They deserved to have a smashing day as they, like all our volunteers, give so much to us.”