Party girl Gertie

IPSWICH Hospital's longest serving staff member is a right royal lucky lady.Gertrude Leacock, a hostess at the hospital, was among the guests at The Queen's Buckingham Palace garden party this month.

IPSWICH Hospital's longest serving staff member is a right royal lucky lady.

Gertrude Leacock, a hostess at the hospital, was among the guests at The Queen's Buckingham Palace garden party this month.

The 63-year-old has worked at the hospital for 37 years and was nominated by her colleagues.

Mrs Leacock, of Grove Lane, said: “I didn't get to speak to The Queen but I did get a very good view of her and Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla.

“I wore a similar hat to The Queen and Elizabeth is my middle name so I felt quite special.

“It was a fabulous event, there's no other word to describe it.

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“I felt so humble to be chosen for such an occasion.”

Mrs Leacock, known among her colleagues as Gertie, started her career at the hospital as a domestic when she moved to Ipswich from the West Indies in 1960.

She was also a ward orderly before taking on the hostess role.

Her job now involves serving patients' food, and cleaning.

She said: “I enjoy everything about my job - meeting and serving people, and being able to be a mother to everybody.”

Her employers OCS, the hospital's support service provider, organised a chauffeur driven car to take Mrs Leacock to the palace.

Her boss Gerri Viney , senior manager, said: “Gertie is very highly thought of and deserved this once in a lifetime opportunity.

“We are exceedingly proud of her, she's a real star.”

Mrs Leacock, a widow who has three daughters, two sons and six grandchildren, was among the nominations at the hospital's staff awards earlier this year.

Her nomination, in the improving working lives category, read: “Gertie has championed patient and staff issues and has been an advocate in change for the better, and improving standards throughout the hospital.

“She is an ambassador for communication, highlighting the need for improving standards as well as praising what is positive.

“She improves the working lives of her colleagues by her advocacy and interest.”

N Do you know a member of hospital staff with a special story? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

N Each summer, The Queen hosts at least three garden parties at Buckingham Palace, plus one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

N Around 8,000 guests attend each garden party, which takes place between 4pm and 6pm.

N Most guests dress up for their special day. Gentlemen wear morning dress, lounge suits or uniform, while women wear afternoon dress, usually with hats.

N After the national anthem, The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family circulate among guests.

N Tea and other refreshments are served from long buffet tables. At a typical party, around 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cake are consumed.

N Military bands play music during the party and the national anthem is played again to mark the end of the party.

N Garden parties have been held at Buckingham Palace since the 1860s when Queen Victoria held 'breakfasts' (which took place in the afternoon).