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Published 05 July 2019

A group of West Dunbartonshire residents had tea with the Queen last week at her annual Garden Party.

The attendees were nominated to attend the prestigious event after making a difference in their community.

They included Jim McLaren, who was named Citizen of the Year last year for his work to create the Golden Friendship club to offer over 60s, those with mental or physical difficulties, those in care homes, and children and families who have a child with physical or mental difficulties the opportunity to take part in a range of activities.

Sheena Rollo, who won a Provost Civic Award in 2018 as part of the Dumbarton District MS Group for 50 years of support, was also in attendance.

Other nominees included Council employees who had been nominated by their manager.

The group was welcomed to Clydebank Town Hall by Provost William Hendrie on Wednesday before they travelled through to Edinburgh for the celebration.

Provost Hendrie said: “It was great to see such deserving residents so excited to be part of the Garden Party.

“This is a great way for us to let these people know how much their hard work and dedication means to the communities around West Dunbartonshire.

“These are the people who make our area what it is and I was delighted to have the opportunity to say thank you to them in person.”

The Queen was introduced to a number of guests during the annual event, held in the grounds of the Palace of Holyrood House.

The garden party was also attended by Princess Anne, Prince Edward, and Prince Andrew who joined the Queen in meeting guests on the lawn.

Jim, from Clydebank, said: “It was an absolutely wonderful day and I was so privileged to be there. I took my 75-year-old mother, Agnes, with me. She has been involved with Golden Friendships right from the start, I set it up shortly after my dad died and she has been there three days a week since then helping me. It has been a new lease of life for her.

“When I won Citizen of the Year, I told her straight away that she was coming with me to meet the Queen. For me, seeing how much she enjoyed it made the day even more special for me. Princess Anne came right up to us and said good afternoon which was lovely.

“After the Queen and other members of the Royal family arrived, we had sandwiches, tea and then ice cream. We were so well looked after and it was nice to meet so many deserving people who had been invited along.

“I’m so grateful to have been invited and it’s a day we will both remember forever.”

Jim set up Golden Friendships in 2017, and since then has helped hundreds of local get out and take part in a number of events and activities.

Members of the club have described it as a “lifeline” and say Jim “made people smile again.”