The Queen's Garden Parties are held three times a year and are a way of rewarding and recognising public service.
On 20th April 2015, the day Neil passed away, he received an official invitation to attend the Queen's Garden Party. He received this invitation because of the hard work and determination he had shown by fundraising for Teenage Cancer Trust whilst undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
On Thursday 28th May, Mum and Sarah arrived at Buckingham Palace to represent Neil in recognition of his achievements.
Unfortuantely, the Queen was rather busy meeting many of the other guests (there were 8,000 in total!). However, Princess Beatrice spoke with Mum and Sarah. Ironically, Mum and Neil had previously had the pleasure of meeting the Princess' mother, Sarah Duchess of York (Patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust) in June 2014, when they attended the official opening of the new Teenage and Young Adult Unit in Bristol.
The Princess, herself an Ambassador for the Teenage Cancer Trust, listened as Mum and Sarah spoke about Neil and she promised she would go home and tell her mother that she had met Neil Vines' mum and sister today.
Neil at the Queen's Garden Party
The frame displays show the official invitation with the caption written by Sarah below, which reads:
This invitation to attend the Queen's Garden Party at Buckingham Palace arrived in time for it to be read to Neil, who lifted his eyebrow in delight that even Her Majesty the Queen wanted to meet him.
20th April 2015
Mum and Sarah were able to see the Queen and other members of the Royal family and wander around the beautiful grounds of the Palace; a view many may never get the opportunity to see and because of Neil they were both able to enjoy this wonderful experience for an afternoon.
It was very poignant that Mum and Sarah, holding a copy of Neil's postcard, posed for a photo next to the lake.
Although Neil couldn't be there his presence was felt throughout (especially in the cake tent!); and of course the invitation and the bear came too!
The day was an immensely proud one albeit tinged with emotion and sadness that Neil wasn't there.
Neil meeting the Duchess of York
18th June 2014