AS AUSTRALIANS prepare for the expected hysteria of a royal visit next week, the Bega Valley has its own link to Buckingham Palace.
Former Bega local Ellie Seckold was invited to a rather special reception in London recently, a Commonwealth Day event were she was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Ms Seckold was invited to meet the Queen at the exclusive function because of her ongoing commitment to youth in the Commonwealth.
Last year Ms Seckold was co-chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) in Sri Lanka, which runs parallel to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) (BDN, 29/11/13).
She was also co-chairperson of the CYF in 2011 (in Fremantle) and was a delegate in 2009 (Trinidad and Tobago).
Ms Seckold is the international youth policy officer at the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and is currently working on the Y20, which will deliver recommendations at the G20, to be held this November in Brisbane.
Despite her busy schedule, an invitation to meet the Queen was not something Ms Seckold could pass up.
“I was invited to meet the Queen due to my role as co-chair of the Commonwealth Youth Forum 2013 in Sri Lanka and over four years committing voluntary time to the Commonwealth, and representing Australian young people and the Pacific region internationally
“I attended an evening reception hosted at Marlborough House, a 300-year-old palace designed originally for the Duchess of Marlborough.”
Although it was just a brief meeting, Ms Seckold said Queen Elizabeth was “incredibly down to earth and made me feel very comfortable in her presence”.
“As the Queen moved around the room, escorted by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma, I realised at the age of 87 she was as fit as a fiddle and still had a very sharp mind.
“I spoke to the Queen about the outcomes of last year’s forum and the work that had resulted from the forum that continues now.
“She noted how successful she had heard the forum was and was pleased to see that there was sustainability and continuity that follows an event such as this.
“Her husband, Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip, followed.
“We spoke about my work in the Commonwealth Secretariat for the international Y20 summit this year and, as his history tells, the Prince became quite cheeky in his response.
“I’d have loved to be cheeky back, but alas I didn’t think that was the right environment to do so!”
Ms Seckold said the highlight of the evening was presenting a bouquet to the Queen as she left the reception.
“I was chosen to do the ‘finale’ where I was whisked away to the marble-floored entrance hall of Marlborough House with only cameramen and orchestra members to present the flower posy to the Queen as she exited.
“I had to curtsy and all!
“Her final words as I handed her the posy was, ‘Oh, you’re too kind. Thank you.’”
“I suppose my work and dedication over the four years with the Commonwealth, all unpaid and on top of full-time work, was rewarded with this single event.
“It’s really nice to see the contributions I’ve put in over the years resulting in something more than just lip service.
“The reports, consultation papers, mentoring and ongoing discussions and progress in the name of youth development for the Pacific and the Commonwealth continue.
“The Commonwealth Youth Council was finally established last year at the Commonwealth Youth Forum after years of behind the scenes work.
“I’m now proud to say the Commonwealth Youth Council is the largest and most diverse youth-led organisation in the world and is committed to engaging, involving and advocating for young people within the Commonwealth.”
With her husband unable to make the trip, Ms Seckold took along her very proud mother, Bega Valley Shire councillor Liz Seckold.
“Taking mum with me was the other highlight of the trip,” she said.
“She’s been an absolute rock to me, always a positive influence and such a beautiful person.
“I couldn’t have chosen anyone better to help share this experience.
“We managed to share some special moments together like seeing London by night on the London Eye, visiting her cousins in north Yorkshire and driving through the scenic Lake District while eating mushy peas!” Ms Seckold said.