Our very own Director, Natasha Barley, had the great honour of meeting Her Majesty The Queen last week. Canadian-born Natasha attended a reception at Buckingham Palace on the 14th of February at the invitation of Her Majesty. The Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, hosted the reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the achievements of the Commonwealth Diaspora community. The reception offered an opportunity to recognise people of Commonwealth heritage who have made a positive contribution to business, community and culture in the United Kingdom.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall also attended the reception and had the chance to meet some the incredible people from across the Commonwealth who have been successful in areas such as business, politics, the arts, sport, diplomacy, religion, charities, youth and community groups.
As Director of Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University, Natasha has made significant contributions to the charity. Since coming into post four and a half years ago, the charity has grown from working with 1800 children a year to over 6000 a year. The team has grown from four to thirteen and the charity now also runs a robust care programme supporting children living in foster care.
Natasha Barley said “It was an absolute privilege to represent my Canadian homeland and Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University at the reception at Buckingham Palace. Having Her Majesty the Queen’s recognition of our charitable work is incredible. I have a fantastic team at HEY CU and amazing businesses that support our work and they were all very excited about this phenomenal opportunity for the charity.”
Whilst at the reception Mrs. Barley also spent time speaking to Prime Minister Theresa May and Boris Johnson, Secretary of State and Commonwealth Affairs.
Mrs Barley commented “Being from a Commonwealth country means a lot to me. I’ve always held Her majesty the Queen in high regard and respected her authority as the Head of the Commonwealth. Being from Canada I always felt a strong tie with the rest of the Commonwealth but particularly England and the monarchy.”
The Commonwealth is an international organisation, spanning every geographic region, religion and culture. During Her Majesty’s reign the organisation has grown from just seven nations to 53 members and now represents over 2.4 billion people.
The Queen has been Head of the Commonwealth throughout her 65 year reign, and while visiting South Africa on her 21st birthday, Her Majesty declared that ” that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted” to the Commonwealth.
The reception is part of the run up to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which is being hosted by The Queen in April.