There was lots of excitement when the North Northumberland branch of the NAS received an invitation for four of its committee members to attend the annual garden party for Volunteers and Carers in Northumberland at The Alnwick Garden.

As dressing for the occasion was encouraged, it was time to get our proverbial ‘glad rags’ on last week. I decided it was time for my MIMC competition-winning piece to have an outing. On the day of the party, we met at our lovely local cafe Carnaby’s, for lunch and, of course, to check out our headwear in advance of the party.

Outfits ‘sorted’, it was off to The Alnwick Garden, which has hosted this annual event for many years apart from a pause over the Covid pandemic. From the moment we arrived when we were welcomed by a cheery team at the entrance, we were immediately made to feel extremely special.

Northumberland has possibly the largest number of volunteers and carers of any county in the UK. The Duchess of Northumberland, as the Lord-Lieutenant of the county, hosts an annual party at The Alnwick Garden for volunteers and carers, which we were delighted to be able to attend.

Carol Malia of BBC Look North, one of the Deputy Lord-Lieutenants, made the official introductions, including explaining the role of the Lord-Lieutenancy, and the Lieutenancy team.

Her Grace, The Duchess of Northumberland, the Lord-Lieutenant, talked about the history of the event, the importance of the volunteers and carers in the county, and their contribution to society.

There was entertainment throughout the afternoon, including The Blue Light Choir, made up of employees of the emergency services, and the Vieux Carre Jazzmen.

Diane, Helen, Claire, and I were attending the Garden Party in our capacity as members of the committee for the North Northumberland Branch of the NAS. Based at Chatton Village Hall, the branch supports individuals affected by neurodiversity as well as their parents, siblings, families, and carers.

The Garden Party afternoon tea, which we all enjoyed, was provided by one of the occasion’s generous sponsors, the local company Greggs PLC.

It was definitely an afternoon for having your photo taken, and didn’t Diane look fabulous in her ASOS chiffon full-length dress, which co-ordinated well with the cerise Dior bow style headpiece (available in lots of colours)?

We also enjoyed having our photos taken with some of the hosts. Here we are seen with Her Grace, The Duchess of Northumberland, who chatted to us about the branch’s work.

I also enjoyed a catch-up with Caroline Pryer – the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Northumberland – who was wearing one of the headpieces I have made for her official role.

It was lovely to introduce Caroline to the other committee members and an opportunity to pose for yet another picture!

And finally, Carol Malia, another of the Deputy Lord-Lieutenants, talked with us about the vital role the branch fulfils in North Northumberland in supporting parents and carers of individuals affected by neurodiversity.

I am very fortunate for this blog to have had access to some stunning images taken on the day of the party by Caroline Preston, aka The Jarvis Jotter, seen here with Caroline.

And so to end with one of Carline Preston’s stunning images, taken from the Walled Garden with the garden party in full swing, seen at the bottom of the cascade.

It was truly a day to remember!