Student ‘in shock’ at Buckingham Palace invite

April 27, 2015

A young Newtownhamilton student is busy preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime, when she will rub shoulders with royalty having been invited to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace next month.

Lauren Johnston will be among a consortium of invited guests from all walks of life at the prestigious event on May 12th where she will get to meet Queen Elizabeth and other members of the Royal Family.

Traditionally Royal Garden Parties are held to recognize and reward public service and it was through Lauren’s work with youth groups that she found she had been nominated to attend.

Having received the official, royal-embossed letter of invitation on April 1st, her initial thought was that she was the victim of an April Fool’s prank

“I had no idea what it was about as I didn’t even know I was nominated,” she said.

Twenty-year-old Lauren has been deeply involved in youth work for a number of years, initially with Youth Action NI in Newry, before connecting with the London-based UK Youth Voice (UKYV), a national youth steering group.

Now the group’s vice-Chairperson, Lauren’s involvement takes her across the Irish Sea regularly to attend presentations and events.  Indeed it was the head of UKYV, CEO Anna Smee, who nominated her for the royal invitation, in recognition of her contribution to the group.

“When I first became involved in youth work, I realized I had a knack for working with young people.  I have been doing it for more than five years and I want to continue with it.  Youth Action NI has given me brilliant opportunities over the years,” she said.

Currently studying at Southern Regional College in Newry, she plans to make youth work a part of her future career and will begin a degree in Community Youth Work at the University of Ulster Jordanstown in September.

Lauren says she is “still in shock” at the unexpected invite and, although unsure what to expect, she is looking forward to the big day at Buckingham Palace.

“I think we will just be mingling with people from other charities and funders, though I haven’t found out all the details yet.   There’s loads of rules in the actual invite, I haven’t went through them all yet,” she laughed.

When asked does she think she will meet the monarch personally, Lauren remarked: ”Apparently I do, from reports I’ve heard, I think I will.  But even to see Buckingham Palace, that will be some experience.  I’m really looking forward to that.”

And on the event’s strict dress code, she added: “I have to wear a day dress and a hat so I’ve settled for a baby pink number!”

Although guests must adhere to a list of protocol, it is believed the Queen’s garden parties are among the most relaxed and informal royal events, which will suit this affable and down-to-earth young lady perfectly.