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Oulton British Red Cross volunteer has a very royal appointment with her sister

Margaret Charlish and her sister Patricia Harvey are both in the British Red Cross.
They have been invited to Buckingham Palace for a tea party to celebrate the anniversary of the charity.

Picture: James Bass

Margaret Charlish and her sister Patricia Harvey are both in the British Red Cross. They have been invited to Buckingham Palace for a tea party to celebrate the anniversary of the charity. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

When Margaret Charlish landed a ticket for a garden party at Buckingham Palace, she thought her luck was in.

But she was in for another surprise – when she found her sister was going too.

Margaret, from Oulton, and her sister Patricia Harvey were in London yesterday to attend the party which helped celebrate the 150th anniversary of the British Red Cross and the sterling work of its volunteers.

The sisters have volunteered for the charity for the last three years and, in an amazing coincidence, they both secured invitations to become one of the 6,000 guests after entering a British Red Cross ballot.

It meant Margaret, 69, and Patricia, 72, from Lincolnshire, had the chance to rub shoulders with the charity’s president, the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra, deputy president of the British Red Cross Society.

On Tuesday, the sisters met at Margaret’s home in Whiting Road to try on their dresses and hats for the party.

Margaret said she would be happy with “a cucumber sandwich and a nice cup of tea”.

“Neither of us was going to apply at first because you could not bring anyone with you. But after chatting we decided to both apply,” she said. “It was a surprise to get the invite in the post – and then we found out we were both going, which is very lucky.

Margaret began volunteering three days a week for the Red Cross as a hospital and home visitor after she read an appeal in The Journal three years ago. She spends two days a week at the A&E ward at the James Paget University Hospital, where she talks to patients to reassure them and keep them company. She also helps staff with tasks such as changing sheets.

On the third day, she visits people in their homes after they have left hospital, helping with leg dressings and other tasks.

Margaret, who moved to the Lowestoft area 32 years ago, said: “I love being a volunteer. I get to meet people and talk to them and help them. The British Red Cross is a wonderful organisation and does such a lot of good work in the country, which some people don’t know about”

Her sister who lives in Welton near Lincoln, is a British Red Cross befriender working with hospital patients.

Anyone interested in becoming a British Red Cross volunteer should visit www.redcross.org.uk or ring 0844 871 11 11.

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