John Jones, from Macclesfield

John Jones M.B.E.

Written by: Rob Howard
Publication: General

John Jones, from Macclesfield, Cheshire, was awarded the MBE for Services to Charity in the 2011 New Year’s Honours List. Over a 20 year period John has raised over £200,000 raising money by busking for charities such as East Cheshire Hospice, Macclesfield Hospital Scanner Appeal, Macmillan Nurses, Alzheimers Research UK, and many others. In the process, John has introduced the accordion to countless members of the public.

On May 10th John and his wife June went to Buckingham Palace, and he wrote about the day as follows…
John Jones tells us about the day he went to Buckingham Palace…

The first indication of being awarded the MBE was when I received an official looking letter marked ‘urgent’ in mid November 2011. I thought it was from the Inland Revenue! Imagine my surprise on opening the letter, however, to find that the Prime Minister was recommending Her Majesty the Queen to approve my being appointed an MBE for charity work. The letter was in strict confidence, and based on my acceptance, my name would be included in the New Year's Honours List for 2012.

It was a very exciting period up to publication of the Honours List on 31st December 2011, and then afterwards an emotional and humbling experience to receive congratulations from family, friends and the charities which I have supported. The date for the investiture was to be Thursday 10th May 2012 and would take place at Buckingham Palace.

My wife June and I travelled down from Macclesfield on Wednesday 9th May, staying two nights in a London hotel. On the morning of the investiture, we met up with my daughter Nicola and stepson Russell at the hotel and travelled to the palace by taxi.

The security was very tight at the palace entrance gates with four policemen checking passes and passport identities before allowing access. We were directed to an inner courtyard and entered by the main entrance, an awe inspiring doorway with marble steps carpeted in deep red. It is amazing to think of the people who have walked up these steps.

Once inside, again security was everywhere, with the ceremonial Household Cavalry looking immaculate. We were directed up a staircase, where the recipients of awards were separated from the support guests who went on to the investiture in the Ballroom.

We were escorted through the first stateroom (the Green Drawing Room) and into the rear area of the Picture Gallery, which is 155ft long, and where we were allowed to mix and mingle. It was amazing to be surrounded by famous masterpieces of art collected from Charles 1 onwards.

We were then informed of the procedure for the investiture, which starts at 11am prompt and is carried out with military precision. We were called forward in groups of ten, to be escorted through, ready for entering the Ballroom when our individual names were called out.

The Ballroom, which is the largest room in the palace, is 122ft long, 60ft wide and 45ft high and is majestic with carpets, drapes and walls all in shades of burgundy through to pink. The recipients line up behind a side doorway ready to enter.

A few paces after the recipient walks into the Ballroom they stop next to an usher on their left, and the audience of guests, who occupy the middle area of the Ballroom to their right, and await their name to be announced. Upon their name being called out, the recipient walks forward a couple of paces and turns left to face the member of the Royal Family conducting the investiture.

In my case the investiture was conducted by The Princess Royal (HRH Princess Anne) attended by four ushers, five members of the Yeomanry and two Gurkha officers, who were standing on a 6" high dais. I then bow and move forward to face Princess Anne who welcomed me and pinned the MBE on my left lapel. She then instigated a conversation where she expressed an interest in me playing the accordion and the variety of music I played. She commented that the accordion was a very versatile instrument, thanked me for my charity work, and offered a parting handshake.

I then stepped back a few paces, bowed and turned to the right, leaving the Ballroom on the opposite side. My medal was taken off and boxed up for me, after which I was guided to re-enter the Ballroom and join the rest of the audience for the remainder of the ceremony. The whole investiture lasted about 1 3/4 hours, and throughout a group of 12 musicians from the Bands of the Household Division played very relaxing background music from a balcony.

After the ceremony you are allowed to take photographs in the courtyard before leaving the palace. The investiture was a wonderful occasion which my wife and I will never forget, and I found Princess Anne to be very warm and sincere. I feel very privileged and grateful for all the people who have supported me in raising money for deserving charities over the last 21 years and for the honour which has been bestowed on me.

Rob Howard
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