Ben Parkinson: My parachute jump offer to Princess

Ben Parkinson is introduced to Princess Anne at the Not Forgotten Association garden party at Buckingham Palace.
Ben Parkinson is introduced to Princess Anne at the Not Forgotten Association garden party at Buckingham Palace.
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On Thursday, it was party at the boss’s house.

I had been invited along with the Pilgrim Bandits to the Not Forgotten Association garden party at Buckingham Palace.

But, firstly, there was a much more important event that took place at the National Arboretum on the same day.

It was the unveiling of the Bastion Wall Memorial to honour all our Fallen from Afghanistan.

Many of the bereaved families were there and it was also nine years to the day that my friend Captain Jim Phillipson was killed in action.

Rest in peace Sir. Never forgotten lads and lasses.

It was a roasting hot day in London on Thursday and I was in full dress uniform, complete with maroon machine beret.

Everyone was dressed as smart as a carrot, Chelsea Pensioners, Beefeaters and Yeoman of the Guard all in their brilliant red uniforms, and all the veterans proudly wearing their medals.

There are always lots of celebrities at the garden party who want to show their appreciation for the Armed Forces past and present.

I shared my cake with Ray Winston for instance.

The food is amazing – everything is cut into very, very tiny pieces, but everything is delicious and beautifully done.

There are sandwiches cut into immaculate tiny strips – I wanted to ask what happened to all of the crusts, but it didn’t seem appropriate at the time.

Then there were cakes, lots of them, but everyone particularly wanted the little tiny chocolate square with a perfect gold crown iced in the middle.

Needless to say I got one, but the desire to eat it overcame the desire to save it to show off.

After everyone had eaten, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, arrived.

She was amazing, and spent ages talking to everyone.

I disgraced myself by reminding her I was waiting for her to do a parachute jump with me. She thought this was very funny, and said it was never going to happen.

However, probably the best thing for me besides being with my friends was meeting Lord General Richard Dannatt and Lady Philippa Dannatt again.

This amazing man turned things around for injured soldiers. He always stuck his neck out, wanting the best for his troops when he was in charge.

It was a long day, there and back on the train, but all worth it – some more great memories.