Dorrett goes to Buckingham Palace

Dorrett meets Prince Charles
Dorrett meets Prince Charles

Burngreave resident, Dorrett Buckley-Greaves, recently had one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences; she went to Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE for 50 years of service for black and ethnic minority communities in Sheffield. Having been included in the New Year’s honours list, she finally got her chance to go to the palace and receive her award on the 11th June. I went to meet her to find out more about this event… “Oh it was simply exhilarating!” she told me. “I had never ever dreamed that I would gain such an award! In fact when the letter first arrived from the palace, I didn’t quite believe it and I didn’t even tell anyone. It wasn’t until a palace official rang me to ask if I was accepting it that it began to seem real. And now I know it absolutely was!

Regal and elegant

“The ceremony was so regal and everyone was so elegant. I was brought into a huge banqueting hall on the day itself (even helped to climb the stairs by a very gallant guard in full uniform). After refreshments and a briefing on what to do, we all waited our turn to receive our award. With a guard at my arm to guide me, I stepped forward to meet Prince Charles, he congratulated me, shook my hand and pinned the medal to my dress. He then proceeded to ask me about the things I had done to receive my award and where I was from … and he was very enthusiastic about Jamaica! It was such a lovely, reassuring conversation – I felt very special.”

“When I think of the things I have done with my life, I’m just so thankful that I have been able to make people proud of me and that the work I have done has been recognised by others. I did it from my heart, never expecting rewards, but it’s still nice to know that they appreciated my efforts and nominated me for this award. My motto has always been, ‘Let my life be a light to the world,’ and over the years I’ve tried to follow this constantly.”

Dorrett and her family at Buckingham Palace
Dorrett and her family at Buckingham Palace

Suitcase and sewing machine

Arriving in Sheffield in 1956 with just a suitcase and a sewing machine, Dorrett quickly settled into life in Sheffield and became involved in many different activities.

“Over the years I’ve been a founder member of lots of different groups, helping to set up what is now known as SADACCA (Sheffield and District African Caribbean Community Association), the 50 Plus Group and the Elders Congress. I’ve been a teacher, a specialist foster mother for young black teenagers, a ward housekeeper at the Northern General Hospital and I’ve also worked for Social Services, making home visits to elderly people and helping as a lay inspector of care homes. And through the church I’ve offered support and comfort to many lonely people who faced difficulties. Much of my work has been as a volunteer but it’s given me a great deal of pleasure to know that I’ve used my abilities to help others. So this award finally brings me much happiness.”

The last question for the interview had to be, “What did you wear on such an occasion?” “Well”, Dorrett told me, “I had vowed not to spend too much money on an outfit but when I went looking, this dress just jumped out at me! It was a beautiful blue, long and flowing, just right for such a stately occasion … and not too expensive. And it matched my ‘queenie’ hat, a great big saucer of a hat covered in blue feathers that I had worn to my daughter’s wedding.”

Looking at Dorrett’s photos of the day, it was indeed an eye catching combination, worn with elegance and grace just right for a day at the palace, talking to Prince Charles!

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The content on this page was added to the website by Gaynor Carr on 2009-07-17 17:02:50.
The content of the page was last modified by Lisa Swift on 2009-07-20 16:34:50.

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