Quite mad and surreal: a trip to Buckingham Palace on 10th Dec 2015 with my mum, sister, primary school teacher and partner to collect an MBE for services to Public Engagement with Science, Engineering and Technology.
— erinma ochu (@erinmaochu) December 10, 2015
If you ever get nominated – make sure you check out the loos, write a letter well ahead of time if you need an extra ticket (my letter writing skills came in handy – i invited my mum, partner, sister and primary school teacher) and don’t worry about wearing a hat or doing a courtesy (i did neither, just a head nod). Everyone at Buckingham Palace is incredibly kind and reassuring. There is a video that plays showing you what will happen, and someone guides you every step of the way.
You might not get the Queen – i got HRH Prince Charles, which was pretty cool – given he had just come back from Paris… he told me we needed ‘an idiots’ guide to climate change‘ – i told him, ‘in Manchester, we are making a recycled Robot orchestra‘. He laughed. We shook hands. I stepped backwards and exited stage right… then watched everyone else get their medals for services to the NHS, netball, mental health, wildlife and the environment and much more besides. An orchestra played behind us as we sat in the Ballroom – my mum, who is Danish, of course noticed that one piece was by Carl Nielsen – a fellow Dane.
We dined afterwards at the Cinmamon Club before heading to the theatre. The night before, i invited a bunch of my friends to Cigala in Bloomsbury. Next day i took my mum to see visit Wellcome Trust, which has supported me with a Fellowship for the past couple of years.
We then travelled back to Manchester and I took my mum to see the new wing of the Whitworth Art Gallery, which is Louisiana inspired.
You will queue, after the ceremony, for hours to get photos taken, so join the queue early (thanks to Clare Matterson for that tip and the extra ticket tip!). It will be cold, so bring a coat and gloves and hat! We forgot and froze. Plus bring snacks as they don’t feed you (we are public servants – servants do not get fed! – thanks to Caroline Coates for that tip!) but you will get a glass of water.
All in all a memorable occasion – especially to see the Buckingham Palace Christmas trees adorned with huge velvet crowns!
Massive thanks to everyone who has supported me and my family.