Derbyshire adult volunteer attends Buckingham Palace reception

5 January 2012

On Thursday 8 December 2011 Lt Andy Smith, Adventure Training Officer for Derbyshire ACF, attended a reception hosted by Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace. Marking the centenary of Captain Robert Scott's final journey to the South Pole, the reception recognised the accomplishments of those involved in exploration and adventure in pursuit of achievement, research and education.

Here is Lt Smith's account of the experience:

My role as expedition leader for Exercise Dragon Venturer Eagle 2010 – a combined Adult and Cadet Expedition to Everest Base Camp 5446 m and summit attempt on Island Peak 6000m – led to my invitation to such an auspicious event, I was overwhelmed. The expeditions planning, rigorous fitness & selection process and fund raising took over my life for 18 months, I didn’t think the day of departure would ever arrive………it did and the hard work and dedication of all was rewarded on the 22 Oct 2010. Our adult team summited on Island Peak and our Cadet team, having visited Everest Base Camp, watched the sun come up over Everest from Mount Kalapatar at 5500m.

During the reception I visited the Queens Public Gallery which is currently displaying The Heart Of The Great Alone; a collection of photographs, presented to King George VI from two Antarctic expeditions, Scotts expedition to the South Pole in 1910 and several years later, Shackletons traverse of the Antarctic, photographers Herbert Ponting and Frank Hurley were taken along to capture a photographic story of the expeditions and as a means of reclaiming expedition expenses.

From the Gallery I was eventually escorted to the Palace; standing in the throne room of Buckingham palace was almost as emotional as reaching Everest Base Camp. Being in service dress meant that I attracted the attention of a few regular serving officers (who couldn’t quite understand why a Cadet Force Officer would have conflict medals!) Lt Col Paul Edwards - British Services Expedition Team Leader to Antarctic 2012 and Major Matthew Hings - British Services Expedition Team Leader to Makalu 2008, both introduced themselves to me, and as we walked around the Queens private collection of pictures and artifacts from the expeditions we talked about our achievements.

I was introduced to Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who enquired about my achievements and I then had the opportunity to mix with other guests, the room was filled with Mountaineers and Adventurers alike, true greats such as Reinhold Messner, Doug Scott and David Attenbourgh and celebrity stars such as Bear Grylls, David Walliams and Nicolas Crane. The room was alive with the stories of achievement and success, I felt very honored to be part of it.

Other members of the Royal Family in attendance were: The Earl of Wessex, The Princess Royal and the Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, Princess Beatrice, The Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent, Prince and Princes Michael of Kent.