CEO’s blog – Our Patron HRH Princess Beatrice hosts a tea party

Our Patron HRH Princess Beatrice hosts a tea party

Wow, what a day we had on Wednesday!  This was the day when our Patron, Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice, hosted a tea party at St James’s Palace for 30 of the closest supporters of Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity.

Our mouths dropped open when we saw the Queen Anne State Room, where this intimate gathering was to take place. The sense of occasion and of history, was overwhelming. We just felt so lucky to be there!

Princess Beatrice opened proceedings by talking about her long association with Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity, initially having received help from the charity before then joining officially as Patron. She spoke openly about her own personal experience of dyslexia, and her determination to ‘change the narrative’ so that people with dyslexia are appreciated for all the many attributes they bring to the table.

In addition to having our Patron present, we were also thrilled to be joined by our Vice Patron, Susan Hampshire CBE, whilst also announcing the news that Roger Jefcoate CBE has joined us as Vice Patron too. The event was all the more poignant because our founder Helen was with us in spirit, through the presence of two generations of her family, including son ‘PJ’ and grandson Peter, who continue to be closely involved.

Our next speaker, Jemima, gave an emotional account of her own personal journey with dyslexia, and the part that Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity has played along the way. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Jemima spoke emotionally of all the support she has received from her number one fan, her Mum, who has absolutely believed in her unique abilities every step of the way. The fact Jemima is in the last few weeks of training before she runs the 26.2 miles of the London Marathon for Helen Arkell is just the icing on the cake!

Princess Beatrice made a beeline for Jemima after she’d spoken, to congratulate her and wish her luck. She also circulated through the whole room, taking time to speak with all our guests and hear about their various different connections with this special charity. She heard how Lynn and Christopher from the Aegis Trust had flown in from Switzerland to join our gathering, and how their foundation have particularly supported the charity’s mission to provide bursary-funded help to disadvantaged families from lower-income backgrounds, as well as training teachers. Her Royal Highness also met David, from the Constable Education Trust, who provided bursary funding for low-income families to receive the help they need, and also sponsored two years of rent for the charity’s premises, where lots of the support of children and adults with dyslexia takes place.

Princess Beatrice then met Theo Paphitis, who has set up a Dyslexia Bursary from which training is provided to State School teachers across the UK, delivered by the Helen Arkell team of experts. She wished Theo well when she learned that he’s boosting donations to the Charity by personally challenging himself to do the cross-Pennines walk in May. She also met many others in the room who are likewise putting their bodies on the line by undertaking challenge events for the charity, or who have signed up to be members of the Friends of Helen Arkell club.

As she was about to say her goodbyes, she stopped for a chat with our brilliant volunteers Vickie and Linda, whose contribution involves anything and everything to support the charity, from stuffing envelopes to serving teas and coffees at the charity’s events. This time, however, the roles were reversed and Vickie and Linda were waited on hand and foot alongside all our other guests.

The two hours of the tea party flew by, and then it was time to make our way back through the impressive corridors of St James’s Palace, out through the ancient gates, and capture some last selfies outside before heading home. This event will live in the memories of the Helen Arkell community for a very long time, and reinforces our determination that, between all of us in a big team effort, we will not only help more and more people with dyslexia across the UK in the coming years, but in particular we will help more and more who are from disadvantaged communities and would not otherwise receive the support they need.

Onwards and upwards!