Cathy Gilman
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Richard Delderfield MBE

Cathy Gilman
Posted by
17 Mar 2017

Bloodwise Honorary President Richard Delderfield received his MBE at Buckingham Palace yesterday.

When you get past all of the references to the film on Google, you finally discover that “ La La Land” means a “fanciful state or dream world”. I think Buckingham Palace were having their own little joke when the pianist was playing just that as we took our seats in the opulence of the Ballroom in readiness for the investiture of Richard Delderfield MBE- it really felt like a dream world.

Sunshine and red carpets

The sun shone on the crystal chandeliers, our feet sank in to a thick red carpet and the gathered audience were looking their very glamorous best, ladies in hats gentlemen in morning suits, all waiting with eager anticipation to witness their loved one receiving their honour from Prince Charles.

Richard’s wife Angela, his daughter Lucy and I felt strangely nervous for Richard; we decided it felt a bit like a wedding day and Christmas coming together through no organisation of our own. Funnily enough part of the repertoire played beautifully by the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra was La Réjouissance from Music for the Royal Fireworks - the very music I actually walked back down the aisle to at my own wedding, little touches that made the day even more special.

More than £300 million invested in research

But we were there for Richard.  Richard began to raise money for Bloodwise in 1985 when his son Paul tragically died from leukaemia. Determined that his death should not be in vain, Richard joined Ian Botham’s first sponsored walk from Lands End to John O’Groats. At that time the majority of people didn’t survive blood cancer. During his time with Bloodwise he became Chairman of the Yeovil and District Branch, was a Trustee for more than 20 years and was Vice-Chairman from 2007-2013 in my first few years as CEO. Perhaps most important of all, from 1985 to when he retired 3 years ago, more than £300 million pounds was invested in research.

Today children diagnosed with the most common form of childhood leukaemia have more than a 90% chance of survival and more than 70% of adults also survive blood cancer. I know that for Richard, this is better than personal recognition.

From nativity scenes to the village shop

But Richard didn’t stop there! His contribution to his local community of Thorncombe was also exceptional. From building nativity scenes and managing building projects for the church, to championing the opening of the local village shop, Richard brought his own vibrancy and energy to supporting local life.  Richard would be the first to say that it was only possible with the support of his much-loved wife Angela. 

Ray Davies of the Kinks

At 11am on the dot the Yeomen of the Guard arrived in full Beefeater regalia, shortly followed by Prince Charles in military uniform accompanied by two Gurkhas. We stood for the National Anthem and then the first recipient was called forward. On the same morning Ray Davies of the Kinks received his knighthood and members of the Olympic hockey, rowing and Paralympic cycling teams received MBEs.

“My son’s death was not in vain”

We could see Richard waiting in the wings and there wasn’t a prouder moment than when his name was called and he walked forward to bow in front of Prince Charles. Prince Charles asked Richard how much money had been raised and how much progress had been made, Richard’s response to the latter was “Sir, how much time do you have?” – but concluded in saying “I know that my son Paul’s death was not in vain”.

Celebration lunch

We spilled out in to the Buckingham Palace quadrangle in glorious sunshine for photographs and hugs, before heading off to Green Park for more photographs in a “host of golden daffodils”. With formalities over we headed off for a celebration lunch with relatives, friends from Thorncombe and the retired treasurer of Bloodwise Peter Burrell.

It is volunteers like Richard that make Bloodwise, indeed all charities, very special indeed .Even more importantly it is thanks to thousands of people like Richard that so many lives have been saved and so much progress has been made in beating blood cancer. Congratulations and thank you Richard.
 

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