My Day at the Palace

Wednesday 3rd of April 2019

Chief Executive, Jenny Osbourne describes the second best day of her life, receiving the MBE from HRH Prince Charles for services to tenant engagement. 

Well I think I have finally come back down to earth after quite simply the second best day of my life  (I have to say my wedding day was the first, right?). A couple of weeks ago I had the absolute privilege of attending Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE from HRH Prince Charles for services to tenant engagement.

It’s a surreal experience I can tell you. For someone like me that is used to knowing what’s going on, being an organiser and running events the planning for going to the palace was stressful for me – what WOULD actually happen? What would I be expected to do? Even working out how the taxi would drop us at the entrance seemed to throw me. I was definitely right out of my comfort zone!

But, as people who had been before told me, I needn’t have worried. From the minute we arrived at the gates we were ushered, supported, discreetly manoeuvred and guided along every step of the way. A favourite bit was when myself, and all the other fellow recipients, were gathered together for our briefing. The opening words from the palace staff member was “from now on in you need to not use one ounce of initiative”!  And he was right. There was no opportunity for walking down the wrong corridor, for being late, for not understanding where to stand or sit. We were all just skilfully guided along albeit abit like potential naughty toddlers that needed to be kept an eye on.

It was also amazing how some instructions of what to do once you were next to receive your award felt like the most complicated set of instructions I have ever had to follow.

Walk forward, stop, wait for surname to be called, walk forward, curtesy, walk forward , receive award, chat, shake hand, step back, curtesy, walk to the right. Seriously, all of us waiting in the line were repeating these like a mantra. Intelligent, experienced grown adults suddenly struggling to understand the concept of walking and stopping  - I think that’s just what the splendour, pomp, grandeur and solemnity of the occasion does to  you. It is an experience like no other.

And what fabulous other people I met. Two wonderfully warm and funny women from Northern Ireland who spoke to me as soon as I arrived alone and nervous into the recipients reception area. A really inspirational woman who had set up a charity to help vulnerable women in India. A GP from Devon, civil servants from all aspects of public service and my personal favourite – a gentleman from Scotland for services to beekeeping and the community. Funnily enough Prince Charles seemed to chat to him for ages!.

Prince Charles was lovely. You probably only chat for 90 seconds but it feels like much much longer. He asked me about Tpas, where we were based and the work we do. I said we needed far more social housing in this country and that it was heartening to see tenant engagement finally high up the political agenda but that much more still needed to be done. He asked if this honour may help with that. I said I would do my very best to ensure it did help and impact in some way. Anything to raise the profile is a good thing.

And then its over… the relaxing and enjoying can begin. For me the best part of the whole experience was sharing it with my parents and my husband. To be able to take my Mum and Dad, both in their mid eighties, to the Palace and for them to see their daughter receive an MBE from the future King was something very very special. I will be forever grateful to who nominated me and those people from the sector who wrote letters of support for getting this award. You know who you are… And am so so thankful for all the people who supported along the way to give me the opportunity to receive such an honour.

To you all; Thank you will never be enough but truly, thank you.