Celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday – 2016

The morning of Saturday June 11th dawned with many of us warily studying the weather forecast! Months of planning had gone into preparations for a community tea party to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday and, after days of somewhat dubious summer weather, we had made sure we had a ‘wet day plan’, but really hoped we wouldn’t have to put it into practice. We woke to grey skies but it was dry, rather humid… but no rain forecast until early evening. Phew! The marquees, tables and chairs arrived at 6am and by 9am it was easy to see that an event was about to take place on Barnes Green.


The morning was a whirl of activity as all the tables and chairs were placed, cups and saucers sorted, sandwiches made, bunting hung and last minute tickets issued. The beautiful flowers, arranged by Nicki Urquhart and Kathy Sheldon, arrived and the tables were laid.


Everything was ready for our guests… and then it began to rain! There was a mad flurry of activity to cover the tables and locate umbrellas. For a few worrying minutes it looked as though the rain might settle in, but it eased off, stopped and we all heaved a collective sigh of relief!


We had a fantastic day! The sun did eventually shine and there was a wonderful atmosphere with great music, lots of chat, endless cups of tea and lots of cake!

Just over 200 elderly guests from Barnes, Mortlake and East Sheen sat down for tea, looked after by 43 table hosts.

We were honoured to have a number of special guests with us including: The Mayor of Richmond upon Thames, Councillor David Linnette, The Mayoress, Mrs Pippa Linnette, Sir Ken Knight, Her Majesty’s Representative Deputy Lieutenant for Richmond upon Thames, Lord Nicholas True, Leader of the Council, Richmond upon Thames, Councillor Brian Marcel, Older People’s Champion, Richmond upon Thames, Councillor Paul Avon, David Bradley, Chief Executive of South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, Dr Darren Tymens, GP and Chair of the Richmond General Practice Alliance, Bishop Richard Harries, Baron Harries of Pentregarth

Cake & entertainment

FiSH volunteer, Liz Evans, kindly made the celebration cake and this was trooped amongst the tables of guests by the Air Cadets before being cut by Sir Ken Knight and the oldest male and female guests, Jack and Sylvia.

Throughout the afternoon we were entertained by a variety of toe tapping music provided by the Barnes Concert Band, Violet & Verity and the FiSH Choir. The children, who earlier in the afternoon had participated in a fancy dress parade dressed as Kings, Queens or Corgis, settled down on the Green with their parents to enjoy a picnic and fun with their own entertainer.


The Queen’s Birthday Tea was very much a team effort made possible by the generosity of the Friends of Barnes Hospital and the Barnes Community Association who provided grants for the catering and entertainment.

But nothing would have happened on the day without the willing help and support of an army of FiSH and community volunteers including St Mary’s Barnes Scouts, Barnes Air Cadets, the Girl Guides and Barnes WI. Transport was provided via five minibuses and around 20 cars, all driven by volunteer drivers – one of whom was celebrating his own birthday!

Simply Vintage provided much of the catering for the seated guests – but volunteers baked cakes, scones, and made sandwiches for the children, parents, entertainers and helpers who tirelessly shifted tables and chairs, hammered in stakes, hung bunting, poured tea, waited on tables and then restored Barnes Green to good order at the end of the day. Others hosted tea tables or escorted guests to their tea tables.

Many of us limped home at the end of the day, exhausted but elated by the day – so THANK YOU to everyone who was involved! You were amazing!