THE Queen is coming to Alnwick later this month, the Gazette can reveal, to celebrate the role of Northumberland’s carers and community volunteers at a special garden party.
Around 8,000 guests have been invited to The Alnwick Garden event attended by the monarch – who will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh – and they will see a plaque unveiled to commemorate the official visit on Wednesday, June 22.
They will be hosted by the Duchess of Northumberland in her capacity as the Lord Lieutenant of the county. The Duchess will be accompanied by Deputy Lord Lieutenant Alan Shearer.
The Queen is due to arrive on the Royal Train at Alnmouth Station mid-morning.
She will then be taken to open officially the new Alnwick Youth Hostel on Green Batt, before going on to a reception at the castle and garden, followed by a public walkabout in Bondgate Within in the afternoon. During her visit to the castle, the Royal Standard will be flown above the historic keep.
In recent weeks, invitations from the Lord Lieutenant, The Duchess of Northumberland, have been dropping through the letterboxes of thousands of volunteers and carers around the county inviting them to attend what is believed to be the biggest event of its kind to be held in the region.
It follows on the back of National Carers Week 2011, which runs between June 13 and 19 and aims to raise awareness of the UK’s six million unpaid carers, as well as celebrating the incredible contribution they make.
“There are so many people in Northumberland who give their time to help others. This is our way of saying thank you for that commitment and contribution,” said the Duchess.
“In recent months, I have been working closely with various organisations to try to ensure that we invite the right people to the event. Obviously, it is difficult to find everyone who gives their time as a volunteer or carer but we have approached those organisations that are best placed to help us create the invitation list and we hope we have not missed out anyone.
“If you are a carer or volunteer in Northumberland and have not received an invitation and wish to attend, then you should please contact the Garden Party helpline 01670 534876.”
Alnwick’s county councillor, Gordon Castle, said: “It is a great honour for the town and a wonderful occasion. The event to recognise carers and volunteers is a great idea and the town has done extremely well to get Her Majesty to open the new youth hostel.
“I hope the whole community will turn out and give the Queen the best welcome possible.”
Geoff Watson, manager of Alnwick Community Development Trust, which was behind the new youth hostel development, added: “We had thought about who we would ask to open the hostel, with a few celebrities in mind, but then heard that Alnwick was due a Royal visit. We didn’t know which member of the Royal Family it would be, but we asked whether it would be possible for them to consider it, never for a second thinking we would be successful.
“To our amazement, we heard a few weeks later that they had agreed but when we found out that it would be the Queen herself, we were stunned. I can’t describe how delighted we are.”
Chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade Carlo Biagioni said the Royal visit would give the community a chance to shine.
“It is so very important that we make the Queen’s visit a memorable one, as it is a real honour to have her coming here,” he said.
“Her visit to Ireland was a massive success and now we have the chance to make a similar impression.
“The reason for her visit, to recognise the work of volunteers, is also an opportunity to show just what the people of this area have achieved. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes and I think she will see that community spirit is alive and well here in north Northumberland. I love Alnwick and this is a fantastic chance for us all to show how proud we are of our home town.”