10 Jun Lord-Lieutenant’s Garden Party
More than 600 people attended a Buckingham Palace-style garden party to thank them for their efforts to support Shropshire during the pandemic.
The event, which took place at Orleton Hall, in Wellington, was organised by Shropshire’s Lord Lieutenant Anna Turner.
On a sunlit afternoon, hundreds of guests were able to chat on the lawns in front of the historic hall, while a brass quintet from the Prince of Wales Royal Corps of Army Music played.
Among the 600 people invited to the event were NHS staff, county residents who had stepped up to help by setting up mask-making production lines or delivering groceries, as well as groups that helped keep people fit – physically and mentally – despite the challenges of lockdown
The Lord Lieutenant said it was important to recognise and mark the community efforts of Shropshire’s public, when faced with some of the most testing times in recent memory.
She said: “When it became obvious there were so many people doing so so many things, we knew we had to thank them somehow”I am just delighted to have this opportunity to say thank you and recognise what people have done, from making face masks to delivering food to helping people who are not in as fortunate a position as others.”
Councillor Gemma Offland, chair of Hadley and Leegomery Parish Council, and a staff nurse at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH), was one of those attending the event.
The council had been asked to nominate worthy recipients and had chosen a number of NHS staff who had worked throughout the pandemic – including one who caught Covid in the first week of the crisis and needed treatment in intensive care.
Some of those attending included Robyn Hatton, a 23-year-old nurse at Princess Royal Hospital; Kirsty Offland, 31, who works in the endoscopy unit at RSH; Charlotte Offland, who works at the same unit, as well as Ollie Foster, who also works in the intensive care unit at RSH.
Wilf Cadelina, 48, who works at RSH, contracted Covid in the first week of the pandemic and required a respirator after he was admitted to intensive care.
He was off work for 14 months as a result of the ordeal, and still suffers from the effects of long Covid.
Councillor Offland said she was delighted that hard working health workers were being recognised for their efforts
She said: “I am proud of all of them. To carry on the twelve-and-a-half or 13-hour days, you can imagine, in full PPE, red hot, and this is just a small token to say thank you for all they have done, I think they deserve all the recognition they get and more.”
Dorita Sobilo, 40, and Karolina Pietruca-Piszczek, 38, who are both from Wellington, were invited after their efforts to help NHS workers and create masks.
The pair, who are both originally from Poland, had collected sweets, coffee, food and items for NHS workers at the start of the pandemic, and then set up their own production line making face masks
Since the war in Ukraine began the pair have also helped collect items to help those affected – with the collections resulting in 11 lorry loads being sent out to Eastern Europe.
Dorita said: “Karolina came up with the idea and we started making face masks without any money. We just put a post on Facebook asking if people have any fabric.
“People started texting us and bringing us big bags of fabric. It started at the Polish community but it became the whole community of Telford.”
The pair said they were honoured to have been invited to the event, with Dorita adding: “It is very nice, we did not expect it at all. All of the voluntary work, we did not do it for recognition, just to help, but we are very proud we can come here and represent the Polish community.”
Mitch Roberts, 26, and Louise Vidor, 34, from Bright Star Boxing Academy, based in Shifnal, were both invited in recognition of the club’s work to support people throughout the pandemic.
The club, which was set up by Joe Lockley, ran sessions over Zoom when lockdown meant they could not meet in person, ran outside sessions when rules were relaxed, and also organised a virtual marathon.
Mitch said they were delighted to be invited and to be able to share the club’s work with other people.
He said: “It is really nice to be part of it and meet some of the people and talk about what the club does.”
Louise added: “It is great that the work we do on the community side is being recognised.”
Dominic Robertson, Chief Reporter, Shropshire Star
Photographs by Pete Johnson Photography