As the nation raises a glass in celebration of Her Majesty's birthday tomorrow, RAF Benevolent Fund Director of Welfare and Policy Paul Hughesdon looks back on the three occasions he met the Queen.
I first met the Queen shortly after being posted to RAF Marham as OC Admin. I arrived as a newly promoted Wing Commander to be told that within six weeks the Queen would be visiting and I was the project officer! Fortunately some of the work had already been started but there was a lot to be done and with Christmas taking up two weeks of the six I had, it was an even shorter period!
At the time the Queen was the Honorary Air Commodore for RAF Marham and would visit during her annual winter stay at Sandringham. As a result she was familiar with us and we with her. I was pleased to be able to meet her on that occasion and again two years later when she returned to the station.
More recently I had the great honour of being the guest of the Not Forgotten Association at a garden party at Buckingham Palace last year. I was able to represent the Fund to help support the Association and also some of the Princess Marina House guests who went along.
I spoke to the Queen about the Fund and she was very interested and very pleased to hear we were doing well and still helping members of the RAF Family.
Having been a station commander for two years, I know a bit of the life of public service where you constantly feel at the beck and call of other people. Her Majesty's continuous commitment year in, year out of doing what will inevitably be some of the same things is just amazing. Always with a smile on her face, always putting people at their comfort so that their day is special. It is a gift to be able to do that. She has an incredible sense of perseverance, duty and sacrifice.
It was a huge personal honour to meet the Queen, although nothing to do with me but all about service. Being a serving member of Her Majesty’s armed forces and having met the Queen and made that relationship personal was enormous and a great privilege.