A volunteer who has dedicated more than 30 years of her life to helping children and families at a hospice has spoken of 'delight' after being invited to a royal garden party. 

Val Sharp, 65, who lives in Slaidburn, attended the Royal Garden Party, hosted by Prince William, at Buckingham Palace in recognition of her 'unwavering support'. 

Val has dedicated an estimated 3,000 hours over three decades to Derian House, helping to take children and their siblings out on trips. 

She was part of the original support group that set up the hospice in 1993 when it first opened its doors to the public, and began by volunteering on the reception desk, providing her time and expertise for free. 

Val’s passion for the charity was recognised by the Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire, Amanda Parker JP, who nominated Val to receive an invitation to the annual royal event after learning about her length of service during a visit to Derian House at the hospice 30th anniversary open day. 

During Volunteer’s Week (3 – 9 June), Derian House is celebrating volunteers who give up their time to help the 400 families the hospice cares for including Val. 

Val, said: “It was quite a privilege to be invited to the Royal Garden Party hosted by Prince William.

"I was so pleased to find out I had been nominated to attend, and quite touched that it had come because of my time at Derian House.

"I was surprised actually that I had been the only one invited when there are so many other deserving people who get involved with Derian.”

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Val and her husband John joined 8,000 others at the exclusive garden party in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

They watched the arrival of Prince William and members of the Royal Family while the band played the national anthem.

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Val said: “It was a lovely day, despite the rain.

“Prince William was there, along with Zara Phillips, Mike Tindall, Peter Phillips, Beatrice and Eugenie, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester – they all walked out to the national anthem. There were two bands playing throughout, they were very good.

“We were able to help ourselves to lots of tea, sandwiches and cake under the marquee.

“We had a walk around the 40-acre gardens, where there was a lovely rose garden and an enormous lake in the middle. We met a lot of people – a few other charity volunteers and members of the armed forces.

“As there were 8,000 guests, it meant there were 8,000 umbrellas.
 
“It really was a very good day and I feel very privileged to have been a part of it.”

Val added: “It’s not something I really think about it’s just something I do. I enjoy volunteering at Derian House, and that hasn’t changed since the beginning.”

Derian House, based in Chorley, cares for more than 400 babies, children, young people and their families from across the North West and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Volunteer Coordinator at Derian House, Frances Lees, said: “The time and expertise that Val has put into Derian House is invaluable. We are so glad that she has been recognised with such a majestic occasion and we’re glad she enjoyed herself – even despite the rain!

“It was during Derian House’s 30th birthday celebrations last year that I was approached by the Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire looking for a nomination for the Royal Garden Party. Of course I had to mention Val, she is a fantastic volunteer. We are very lucky to have her.

“Our volunteers make Derian House such a special place. We simply couldn’t do what we do to help children and young people from across the North West without them.”