Royal Sandringham garden party set to honour community champions from across Norfolk

With a welcome respite from the rain and a recovering Duke of Edinburgh now expected to attend, the stage is set for a magnificent garden party at Sandringham tomorrow (Tuesday).

The Queen has invited 4,000 community champions from all walks of life to the exclusive Diamond Jubilee celebration to thank them for their contribution to life in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Aspiring chefs from three colleges are set to serve a top secret menu show casing both their home grown talents and the finest fresh produce the region has to offer.

It was feared Prince Philip would be unable to travel to Sandringham due to a bladder infection, but the Duke was released from hospital on Saturday just in time to spend his 91st birthday at home in Windsor the following day.

There was more good news when weather forecasters predicted a brighter and drier day tomorrow, with a return to heavy showers on Wednesday.

But it would take more than a little rain to spoil the occasion for those honoured to receive an invitation from the palace.

Among them will be Iris Van Zon, who runs Clinks Care Farm near Beccles with husband Doeke Dobma.

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The couple set up the Toft Monks farm to combine care of the land with care of people and provide training for people with a range of difficulties, including mental illness, brain injuries and dementia.

Miss Van Zon, 50, said: 'It is recognition for what we are doing here and I am really quite excited about going.'

She will be joined at the garden party by Alison Kirk, of Beccles, who works at the farm after starting out as a volunteer.

Years of creating spectacular props in his garage saw great-grandfather Graham Uttin nominated to attend by Liz Falconbridge, director of King's Lynn Arts Centre.

Mr Uttin, of Peppers Green on the Grange Estate, first volunteered at the centre in about 1997 after taking early retirement.

Since then, the 73-year-old has been involved in a number of major projects. One of the most ambitious saw him recreate a train carriage and a platform at King's Cross station to give more than 3,000 local school children the chance to experience life as an second world war evacuee.

Mr Uttin is to attend tomorrow's party with his wife, Mary. 'I fill in at the arts centre where I can, when I can,' he said. 'There is a great team at the arts centre and I really enjoy it.'

Community worker Baldassare Guidone was left speechless when his invitation arrived in the post.

The former restaurant owner, known as Guido, is a prolific volunteer and chairman of Norwich Home Watch.

Mr Guidone, of Orchard Close, Thorpe St Andrew, said: 'To be a foreigner and be given this honour is something I cannot put into words. I love living here, anything is possible in this country.'

He was nominated by Norfolk County Council Labour leader George Nobbs for his work with Home Watch and other community projects.

Dedicated fund-raiser Gerry Tann was invited in recognition of his work for the Royal British Legion and the King's Lynn Lions.

Mr Tann, of South Wootton, is chairman of the Norfolk RBL branch and became known as 'poppy man' after organising the Poppy Appeal for many years. He is also a welfare case officer and makes himself available at any time of the day to help ex-service personnel and their families.

'I am absolutely devoted to the legion,' he said. 'I have been all my adult life and I have always served the community in some way or another.'

Mr Tann will attend with his wife, Jill, a former president of the King's Lynn Lionesses.

Cadet Sgt Harry Horsman, from Loddon, was selected by the commander of the Norfolk Army Cadet Force as one of two Lord Lieutenant's cadets.

'I'm really excited, it's a once in a lifetime thing', he said. The 17-year-old hopes to join the RAF after studying physics or chemistry at university.

Fellow Lord Lieutenant's Cadet, Cadet Flight Sgt Alice Hunter, was 'really excited' when the invitation from Buckingham Palace arrived at the family home in Fakenham.

The Dereham sixth former, who hopes to join the RAF after qualifying as a physiotherapist, said her mother Sarah would be accompanying her to the party.

See tomorrow's EDP and for full coverage of the garden party.