A TIRELESS Newton Abbot charity worker has spoken of her ‘amazing day out’ after she was invited to the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on Saturday.

Carol Swiecicka, of the Newton Abbot Travel Club, received the BEM in the New Year Honours of 2021 and was among the 2,000 people invited to take part in the big day at Westminster Abbey.

‘The atmosphere was amazing,’ says Carol.

‘We were on an aisle and although it did have a pillar we were up near the thrones and could see the Royal Family and the King and Queen plus we had TV screens so could see everyone arriving and the ceremony itself.

‘The music with the organ and acoustics were amazing and something that seemed to raise the roof and something I’ll never forget.

‘The whole occasion felt unreal and I only wished that my dear mum, dad, aunt and dear friends could have shared in it with me, but maybe they did we will never know.

‘I’m not sure what the highlight was as it was so surreal but I suppose it was when everyone sang “God Save the King”.

‘It more than filled the whole Abbey – you had to be there to experience it with the organ, all stops out.’

Newton Abbot Travel Club’s Carol Swiecicka, BEM, took this ‘selfie’ shortly after the Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey.
Newton Abbot Travel Club’s Carol Swiecicka, BEM, took this ‘selfie’ shortlyafter the Coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey. (-)

The day had started early when she left her husband at 7am to get through security.

‘Going through security next to me was Jay from the Repair Shop, then it was outside onto a Green and across the road which was heavy lined with police even though it was cordoned off but you could hear the bands playing.

‘We were then in the Abbey. I had expected to be right at the back on an aisle with pillar with all the other BEMs but although there were about 15 or so of us in our section it was mainly press and media and three rows behind I am sure it was Alistair Darling.

‘I was sat next to two other BEMs a lady from Yorkshire and a man from Northern Ireland, the ladies behind us one was from Aberdeen.’

‘Obviously we weren’t allowed to take photos in the Abbey, you never are but at the end afterwards they let us go up and take a couple of photos of the throne, altar and a selfie etc with security keeping a close eye on us.’

Carol Swiecicka, who has been running the Newton Abbot Travel Club for around 17 years, said: ‘I was very surprised when I received the invite and thought is this really for me?’

The travel club membership is made up mostly of the over 60s and club outings range from day trips to, theatre, boat, heritage railways etc to away breaks at events, gardens, National Trust etc these being mostly in this country but occasionally to Belgium or Holland for special events, big garden parades or to see Andre Rieu in Maastricht.

‘We have a very good and loyal group of people working with us in the travel group and it is for them as well,’ said Carol, who is in her early 70s.

As well as fundraising and organising trips, Carol was busy keeping up the morale of club members and friends during lockdown in the pandemic.

‘Although the NATC members kept saying how much I deserved it, I could not have done any of the things and fund raising without their support so although I was there they were there as well with me in spirit and trying to spot me on the television.’

Carol’s tireless work for others has long been on the Royal radar. In 2019 Carol was invited to the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace for her work in the community.

And her commitment to charity is ongoing with many future events in the pipeline.

‘We have a fund raising cream tea event with a Neil Diamond tribute act next week at the Livermead Cliff Hotel, Torquay which has sold out where we will be raising money for Parkinson’s & Devon Air Ambulance.

‘We are just putting together a coach trip on Sunday 28th May to the Royal Mint, outside Cardiff for a Behind the Glass tour and strike your own 50p Coronation Coin and there are places available presently on it if anyone wants to contact me 01626 354310.’