Richard Spendlove MBE
By gracious permission of Her Majesty the Queen
The day began somewhat early - for us -when the alarm had the temerity to shriek forth at five-thirty. I had come to believe that there was only one five-thirty in each day and that it arrived about teatime.....!
We readied ourselves and the telephone rang. It was the BBC who wanted a few words of reaction. This dealt with, we ate breakfast and waited.
About seven- thirty, William McRanor arrived. William is the 'minder' and chauffeur to David Croft OBE, who had - for the day -most kindly loaned us both William and a magnificent Bentley motor car.
By this time, the BBC had arrived to see us on our way and broadcast our departure into the Breakfast Programme. I climbed into the back with Betty and Tina and Gary settled himself at the front with Bill, who had even laid the Daily Telegraph, 'crossword up' for me in my seat. We glided noiselessly into the morning 'rush'.
As we approached the Palace, Bill said, quietly, "Hats on now ladies". They acceded. We joined a queue of other cars and waited for the police to give us the 'once over'. That done, we drove up to the gates and after a brief conversation between Bill and another police officer we drove up to the red carpet.
Once again, Bill spoke, saying - again quietly, "You stay still, I do the door". Again we did as we were told and were shepherded out of the gleaming limousine, with the professionalism we had already come to expect. He drove away to park and we were ushered into the Palace.
The three most precious people in my life were then taken in one direction and I was led along another passage, into a long gallery of magnificent pictures.
The room was also filling with other the other folk soon to be honoured and we made amiable small talk. At some point, soon afterwards, an officer arrived and introduced himself as the man who was to take us through a kind of rehearsal. This done, he left and we awaited the invitation to form a line outside the door to the room in which the honour would be bestowed.
Suddenly the man in front of me had gone forward and I remember that - at that point - the resident orchestra, situated in the gallery at the rear of the room, were playing a selection from 'South Pacific'. Above the strains of the song 'A Cockeyed Optimist', I heard my name called and walked forward to the dais. I have to say that I was not frightened, nor was I greatly overawed. What I actually felt at that moment was a deeper appreciation and consciousness of what my Listeners had done for me than I had ever felt before.