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Sustainable heroes fit for a Queen’s party


WWF recently did me the great honour of nominating me for one of the two tickets they had for the Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations at Windsor Castle. To say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement.

Queens birthday invitation © Simon JakemanQueens birthday invitation © Simon Jakeman

My mother in law’s first reaction on hearing the news was to tell me in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t be able to wear a vest top (?!) and that I would need to iron whatever I was going to wear. She either has very low expectations of my domestic abilities, or knows me quite well, I will leave you to decide which…

After the initial shock had worn off,  and with my mother in law’s warnings ringing in my ears, I started to put some thought towards the whole ‘what to wear’ issue. There was a dress code for the Queen’s stand, but I checked my ticket carefully and established that my seat wasn’t there, so theoretically I could have worn anything. When I got an e-mail from the WWF team to warn me that the ground at the event was pretty muddy after some torrential downpours, the possibility of ‘festival wellies’ did cross my mind!

Windsor Castle © Simon JakemanWindsor Castle © Simon Jakeman

Having spent a year Buying Nothing New, I am now eight months into a year of non-new clothes, so buying a new outfit for the occasion wasn’t an option. In the end I plumped for something fairly smart, but still practical in terms of layers and warmth and mud, and wore a dress I picked up at a second-hand market a couple of years ago. This must now be approaching it’s 30 wears, as per  journalist Lucy Siegles’ philosophy for clothes that you should only buy if you can commit to wearing it 30 times.

-I think most of my wardrobe would easily pass this test, along with my wonderful boots from ethical shoe company Po-Zu, one of my few ‘new’ purchases since the end of our year buying nothing new.

The literature that came with the ticket emphasized the need to make sure there was time to browse the array of over 200 retail stalls at the showground, but for someone who tries very hard to be a conscious consumer, these held little appeal. I was however delighted to discover that one of the busiest stalls seemed to be the Oxfam shop, doing a roaring trade in pre-loved Barbour jackets and knitwear.-It genuinely made me smile!

Jen Gale © John PalmerJen Gale © John Palmer

I was really excited to find out  that WWF’s  other guest was none other than super hero Simon Jakeman, the man responsible for pretty much single-handedly ‘greening’ London’s Fire Brigades. I met Simon briefly at the WWF Hidden Heroes  Awards last year, and now stalk him on Twitter , and it was wonderful to get a chance to catch up properly and hear more about the work he is doing. Simon is a truly brilliant man, and it is so inspiring to hear about the work he is doing on the ground, and the difference that he is making.

SImon Jakeman and his panda toyFirefighter and WWF ambassador Simon Jakeman with his panda toy for #PassThePanda

The evening itself far surpassed any expectations I may have had. The line up of stars included Kylie Minogue, James Blunt, Damian Lewis, and Jim Carter (most famously Carson the butler from Downton!).The show was billed as a ‘Celebration of a lifetime’ and it certainly was.

There were over 600 members of the armed forces from all over the Commonwealth, as well as over 900 horses, ranging from Shetland Ponies in the Shetland Grand National, right the way through to Cavalry horses, to the Queen’s champion racehorses. The only slightly disconcerting moment of the whole evening was the Queen’s artillery salute, when it turned out the canon’s were pointing right at us, and we were looking straight down the barrel of the 100 year old guns…and hoping nothing would go wrong!

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the programme that went out on ITV on Sunday night, I would really recommend you finding it on Catch Up. It was a true spectacle, and I challenge even those who aren’t Royalists, not to feel a stirring of emotion.

Huge thanks to WWF for what was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was a complete honour and surprise to be nominated along with Simon, and is an experience I will never forget.

Wear it Wild on 27 May

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