Today was special. Princess Anne had agreed to visit Kent for a conference of service users, carers and staff of KCC's Occupational Therapy service.
I had to give a three minute speech to welcome our special guest. Since I have been a little busy recently, one of our officers kindly wrote one for me. When I read it through, it not only ran nearly six minutes long, but it just didn't sound like me. So I sat down and rewrote it - about how OT makes such a difference to people's lives, about how proud I was of the staff.
There I was, waiting at the Weald of Kent golf club with some thirty staff and a hundred and fifty service users for the Princess's helicopter to land at Headcorn. I was introduced to a very senior executive from the College of Occupational Therapy, of which the Princess is patron. "You have your speech?" she asked "I insisted it was sent to us for approval, and I've crafted the Princess's speech to respond to the various points you will have made..."
I heard myself lamely agreeing "...absolutely" and then she moved off to speak to staff! I wished the ground could open up - should I go to my car and get the original speech? No. I'd have to own up! I did. I told her the speech wasn't 'me'. It was too long. And I showed her what I'd written. "It's very passionate.." she commented. "Yes, you must give your speech".
The Princess Royal arrived, warm and gracious and working the room like the consummate professional she is. Not a single person was left out. I gave my speech, and I'll never know whether the Princess's response was the prewritten one or whether she adlibbed in parts, but it seemed to match mine perfectly. She signed the Visitors' Book and left with her entourage, leaving a hundred and fifty service users delighted and enthralled.
And leaving me recovering quietly in the corner!