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Queen's Garden Tea Party

Last month, a long-standing member of support staff at Toot Hill School was invited to attend the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace.

Jill Horton, who has worked in various roles at Toot Hill for the last 15 years, was nominated by Sandy Paley (Executive Head Teacher) for services to education and young people, particularly Pupil Premium students.

Jill was originally nominated in 2019, but due to the pandemic the invitation was delayed. Jill finally travelled to London to attend the garden party on 26 May this year, which was also attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Princess Beatrice.

Sandy Paley said:

“I nominated Jill in recognition of her years of service to the children at Toot Hill School. She truly is a most loyal and committed member of our school community, solely focused on caring for and helping our children to believe in themselves and to succeed.

At the time of nomination, Jill had worked at our school for just over 12 years (now 15), starting as an Admin Assistant and then after six years she followed her heart to help children on a more face-to-face basis by joining our Student Services team, looking after the attendance and welfare of all children in our school, particularly our most vulnerable students.

When the opportunity arose to support our students in Food Technology, as a technician in 2016 Jill once again put the needs of our students first and undertook the challenge of equipping our students with the ingredients and skills needed to learn to cater for themselves in a healthy and sustainable way, shopping daily to meet their needs.

COVID caused Jill’s original invitation to be postponed but she eventually got to attend the Palace gardens in May 2022.”

Jill added:

“I was overwhelmed to get the invite back in 2019 and then to have 10 days’ notice at the beginning of May this year was both exciting and petrifying…what to wear?!

A truly once-in-a-lifetime experience mixing with people from all walks of life, all dressed in their finery from uniforms to morning suits to wedding outfits….typically I had to stand next to a lady with the same hat as me!

I had no idea the Palace garden was so huge — a stunning avenue of ageless oak trees leading down to a beautiful lake. Even the British weather (sheet rain followed by warm sunshine) couldn’t spoil the atmosphere, especially with two brass bands playing continuously throughout the afternoon.

To see the tea tent stretching the whole side of the Palace garden filled with assorted sandwiches, wraps and an amazing variety of cakes was awe inspiring and just had to be sampled. My daughter Emma and I did Toot Hill proud!

I was so chuffed to see William, Kate, Sophie, Edward and Beatrice but the highlight for me was the Yeoman of the Guard forming a guard of honour for the Royals.

I’ll be forever grateful to Sandy for her support over the years, her lovely comments and for letting me feel like a Queen for the day!”

August 2022


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