On Friday (May 20), I attended my investiture as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
My medal was presented by HRH Prince Charles in the Buckingham Palace ballroom, ‘For Services to the Environment particularly the protection of Whales and Dolphins.’.
In late November, I received a confidential letter from the Cabinet Office notifying me that I had been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List and swearing me to secrecy until the evening of December 30. After recovering from the shock, I was filled with pride and humbled to be recognised for over three decades of work as a founding director of EIA and campaigning for effective protection for whales, dolphins and porpoises.
There was an air of excited anticipation in the courtyard of the palace as recipients and their guests, including me and my family, arrived for the ceremony in their finery. Walking through Buckingham Palace was simply wonderful – gorgeous ceilings, staircases, furnishings and so many interesting pictures. We would have loved to stay all day!
We recipients were well briefed so we knew exactly what would happen and what we should do. I was concerned about the curtsy and stepping backwards after receiving my medal – fortunately, none of us tripped over!
Waiting in an anteroom for my turn to be invested, I really enjoyed looking at a magnificent and very large painting of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s wedding and a second painting of the christening of their son, the Prince of Wales. I was reminded that this was the way you recorded such events in those days – so different from the ease in which we capture them today (no mobile phones or personal cameras were allowed in the ballroom!).
I very much enjoyed meeting some of the other recipients and learning of the broad scale of work, courage and dedication that merited these awards. My husband Clive said people seemed to be rather interested when my citation was announced; Prince Charles seemed interested too.
I keep reminding myself that Jennifer Lonsdale has been awarded an OBE and has the medal and citation, signed by the Queen and Prince Philip, to prove it. I am just so proud and privileged to be honoured.
My OBE is testament to the tenacity and achievements of EIA over more than three decades. It has never been easy but we make a difference for the future and without EIA this world would be a poorer place.