King Charles has invited more than 850 community and charity heroes from across the UK to join his coronation celebrations at Westminster Abbey.
Determined that it should be an event for the people, the monarch has arranged for invitations to go out to 450 British Empire medalists.
Among them is teenager Max Woosey – known as ‘tent boy’ – who raised £700,000 for his local hospice in Devon by sleeping in his garden for three years.
Another is Sahil Usman, who, despite battling leukemia at the age of 15, managed to make baskets during the pandemic and deliver them to the elderly in Blackburn.
The British Empire Medal recognizes the achievement or contribution of service to the community in a local area, in the form of volunteer or charitable work that has made a real impact.
On the way to the abbey: Max Woosey, 13, who braved storms and snow to raise money
King Charles has invited more than 850 community and charity heroes from across the UK to join his coronation celebrations
Many of the medal recipients who attended the coronation service played important roles in their local communities during the Covid lockdowns.
The medal holders will be seated in the Abbey itself on May 6, where only 2,000 seats are available. Colleagues from across the Empire have complained loudly about a lack of invitations compared to the 8,000 places available for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.
Camping… for three years!
At the age of ten, Max Woosey decided to camp out in his garden to try and raise £100 for the North Devon Hospice during the first Covid lockdown.
In the end, he spent every night in his tent for the next three years, braving hail, snow, gales and blazing sun – raising more than £700,000. After going through about 15 tents, he is only now sleeping inside again.
His first tent had been a gift from 74-year-old neighbor Rick Abbott, who died of cancer in early 2020 and was being cared for by hospice.
The money raised by Max from Braunton will pay for 16 nurses who support the rural community in North Devon.
But Buckingham Palace is adamant that, while respecting history and tradition, the stripped-down ceremony should include more of society’s good, rather than the greats.
A further 400 young people representing charitable organizations nominated by the King, Queen Consort and Government will have the opportunity to watch the coronation procession and service from St Margaret’s Church, next to Westminster Abbey.
The nominated organizations have a long history of royal support – of the 400 young people, 200 were involved with the Prince’s Trust, the Prince’s Foundation, Barnardo’s, the National Literacy Trust and the Ebony Horse Club.
The other 200 are from the Scout Association, Girlguiding UK, St John Ambulance and the National Citizen Service. These four organizations provide stewarding, routing and first aid services on Coronation Day across London. Queen Elizabeth II was a patron of the Scout Association, Girlguiding UK and Barnardo’s.
It is the first time that the 12th century St. Margaret’s Church has been used to receive young people at a coronation.
Grandfather John Anderson, 72, from Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, believed he was a victim of a scam after being told he was receiving a British Empire medal.
He said, “I was on vacation with my family and it was a text message. ..My son-in-law, who is a police officer, looked at it and called a few times and he said it was good enough.’ He added, “There are far more senior people than me, movie stars, gentlemen and ladies…to be asked is an honor.”
Determined that it should be an event for the people, the monarch has arranged for invitations to go out to 450 British Empire medalists. Pictured: Sahil Usman (left) and Dawn Wood (right)
Grandfather John Anderson, 72, of Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, believed he was a victim of a scam after being told he received a British Empire medal
Early in the pandemic, Mr Anderson helped set up a call center where those who had Covid could have a food package delivered to their homes. He also set up a communal food bank.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, said: ‘The eyes of the world will be on the UK during the coronation, and the recipients of the British Empire Medal will be at the center of the ceremony.
These are people who have done everything for their local area and who now have the opportunity to represent those communities at an important time in our history.”
The Atlantean triumph of the plastic warrior
With oars in hand and a big smile, Dawn Wood completed a 3,000-mile unsupported rowing trip across the Atlantic Ocean – a challenge considered one of the toughest in the world.
Ms Wood, a Marine in Essex Police, departed from Gran Canaria and spent 51 days and nights at sea, just missing a world record for the fastest solo crossing.
Following the 2019 achievement, the coronation hero has visited more than 50 schools and communities to talk about her experience and raise awareness of marine plastic pollution. She led the ‘Big Burnham Litter Pick’ to clean up litter from the coast and continues to fight plastic pollution by raising money and partnering with businesses.