On her majesty’s security service – tea party at the Palace
by Andy Tong | 5th June 2019
THE Tonbridge Poppy Appeal organiser Carl Lewis visited Buckingham Palace to attend a garden party last week with his wife Jenny.
Mr Lewis works as a supervisor for the Corps of Commissionaires, the oldest security company in the world, which operates at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Pembury.
Around 40 per cent of its members are made up of former military personnel or members of the police and fire services.
The Corps was founded in 1859 to provide jobs for ex-servicemen who were willing and able to work after the Crimean War. Its head has always been the reigning monarch.
“The Queen is our boss,” he said. “It was very nice to represent the company, and Tonbridge as well through my work with the British Legion.”
There were 8,000 guests from all walks of life at the event, which is held three times a year at the palace and once at Holyroodhouse in Scotland. Attendees are only invited once.
‘My wife had the best hat – it was the star of the show. No one was commenting on my uniform’
“We met all sorts of different people, those who were receiving British Empire Medals, armed forces personnel, members of the clergy.”
He added: “My wife had the best hat – it was the star of the show. No one was commenting on my uniform!
“Jenny got very close to the Queen, and I got a nod from Prince Harry, who spotted my uniform.
“We congregated on the palace lawns, then went and had a very nice afternoon tea.”
They were entertained by the Royal Marines Band from Portsmouth and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.
Mr Lewis, who is also a volunteer flood warden and ran as a Conservative candidate for Vauxhall ward in the local elections last month, has run the town’s Poppy Appeal for four years.
He has broken the record for fundraising for each of the last three years and in 2018 broke the £40,000 mark for the first time.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end the First World War, he and Pam Mills organised a living history weekend, Tonbridge 100, which attracted thousands of visitors.
'We would like more companies to get involved, having poppies on the front of their vehicles'
Mrs Lewis has taken over the Poppy Appeal collection in Southborough, and the couple were invited to attend the Centenary of the Armistice service at Westminster Abbey in recognition of their contribution to the charity.
This year the campaign will focus on the start of the Second World War, 80 years ago.
“Last year was massive,” said Mr Lewis. “I don’t expect to raise as much this time, so I’m looking at it as a clean sheet.”
He is keen to gather more support from the corporate sector. “We would like more companies to get involved, having poppies on the front of their vehicles.”
Taking tea with the Queen
Here's what was on the menu...
Sandwiches: jackfruit, slaw and baby spinach wrap; egg mayonnaise with cress; summer beans with carrot on white bread; gammon, tomato and wholegrain mustard; smoked salmon, black pepper and cream cheese bagel; chicken, tarragon and asparagus wrap.
Cakes: Dundee, carrot, passion fruit tart, strawberry choux bun, raspberry shortbread, Victoria sponge, chocolate cherry pistachio slice, scones with blackcurrant jam and cream.