We are about to witness history in the making, a moment to remember and an opportunity to celebrate with family, friends and neighbours – the coronation of King Charles lll will take place at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6th May 2023.

I hold our Monarchy in high esteem, it almost feels like part of my makeup to have respect for a Royal Family that has been such a constant in my personal and professional life. The Monarchy and this grand ceremony will be watched by millions around the world, which makes me feel proud to be British and that our British Values are accessible to so many.

I can’t begin to tell you how was honoured and humbled I felt to be included in Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll 2018 New Years Honours list with an MBE for Services to Apprenticeships and Charity. Five years on and it still feels unreal. It was a privilege to be invited to my investiture at Buckingham Palace and to meet so many wonderful recipients who had achieved amazing things in their lives, such stories of generosity, supporting others, voluntary work with children and victims of crime and people that had served in the NHS since day 1.  As I looked around the room, it became clear that the men were more relaxed than us ladies, without exception we stood glued to the monitors showing footage of previous investitures because we had to master the art of the curtsy. There was a great feeling of being part of something special, it didn’t matter that we’d never met before, we were sharing this moment and took pleasure in hearing each other’s stories.

Debbie Gardiner being presented with her MBE by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace
This is such a special photo, you can see how happy I look. Standing there I felt a huge sense of pride and joy, however my head was spinning with the detailed instructions about how many steps to take (forward and back), when to shake hands, the curtsy and when to leave to make way for the next recipient. It wasn’t until just after this moment that I realised my husband and children had front row seats.

I had the privilege of being presented with my MBE by the then Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, who I’m pleased to be able confirm is a fan of apprenticeships; he had a genuine interest and commented that he was pleased employers had started to engage with the idea and take on more apprentices. So, there I was, talking to the future King about apprenticeships and finding that we had a shared a passion about giving people development opportunities and making a difference to the lives of others. AMAZING. It was lovely to have my husband and children there to witness this event, but if I’m being honest, it still makes me sad that my parents didn’t see their little girl receive an MBE.

Receiving the Warrant some weeks later was like re-living it again, it brought great joy into the house. My Warrant is signed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll and the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip. It has always meant a lot to me, but since they’ve both passed away, I feel all the more privileged to have this wonderful document that they both signed; it’s my special piece of British history.

I’m 62 and this will be the first coronation in my lifetime, how amazing is that? I’ll be watching it, making new memories, seeing history unfold and remembering that we shook hands and talked all things apprenticeships.

It looks to me like King Charles lll has been enjoying the preparations and rehearsals for the big day and I’m sure he will enjoy the real event and seeing so many others having a good time.

Mark Dawe, Debbie Gardiner, and Karen Kelly smiling for a photo at bbar on Buckingham Palace Road
Here I am with Mark Dawe, the person who put me forward for an award and Karen Kelly long standing colleague and friend, it was the same day and we’d just had a lovely meal at BBar on Buckingham Palace Road. Forever grateful to Mark and the team at AELP for the nomination and I should give my hairdresser Wayne a shout out as I had the best dressed head, with no fear of fascinator slippage.

I feel like I need to pinch myself when I say out loud that I’ve met the King, I’m just a little girl from North London, who always had a lot to say, was a bit bossy, but from the age of 10 (1970) started supporting ‘people’ charities and raised a massive £20 in my first jumble sale in our garage.

This coronation has a special meaning for me and my family, whatever you have planned let’s make it a happy and peaceful weekend.

On behalf of Learn Plus Us I’d like to congratulate King Charles lll on his coronation and wish him a long, healthy and fulfilled life as our King.