Milton Keynes volunteer is congratulated by King Charles at royal garden party

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A Milton Keynes man who has dedicated 40 years of his life to volunteering has been recognised for his hard work at a Royal Garden Party held at Buckingham Palace.

Roger Brewer, 79, began his volunteering journey at the complex mental health charity St Andrew’s Healthcare, which has its head office in Northampton, in 1985.

Since joining he has become a regular face across the hospital site, where he regularly visits patients and helps out at events.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

To celebrate his commitment to the charity, Roger and fellow long-term volunteer Mary Oxley, 94, who has served 22 years, were both invited to the Royal engagement.

Roger Brewer at the royal garden party at Buckingham PalaceRoger Brewer at the royal garden party at Buckingham Palace
Roger Brewer at the royal garden party at Buckingham Palace

Dawn Wright, the charity’s Voluntary Service Manager, said “All our volunteers are hugely valued, but Mary and Roger are two of our longest-serving volunteers. They have both made such an impact to the lives of our patients, and it was a really proud moment for me to see them at Buckingham Palace where they got to meet the King himself.

“They thoroughly deserve to be recognised for the work they do with us and I’m thrilled they received these highly coveted invites.

“Roger really is one of a kind as there’s not many 79-year-olds who can speak Bengali, Mandarin and Urdu. He even has an O-Level in Punjabi and is currently learning Punjabi sign language so he can communicate with a deaf patient.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Both Roger and Mary are dedicated, wonderful people who have quite simply changed lives. I cannot tell you how much their visits mean to our patients, many of whom do not have any family.”

Roger also spends six days a week traveling to Northampton, London, Aylesbury and Oxford to volunteer at prisons, NHS Trusts and in the community as an Honorary Chaplain, with him also recently accepting a volunteering role on an NHS Safety Panel.

He said: “I just love people. I don’t judge them. I’m solely here to make people’s lives better. I always take on the interests of the person who I’m talking with, for example, I hate football – but I often show a passion for it to see the joy in the person’s eyes!

“The Garden Party was a perfect day and I felt so honoured and proud to be inside the grounds of Buckingham Palace. King Charles made a real effort to meet as many people as he could.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

To help make his visit even more memorable, Roger even drafted a personal letter to give to King Charles.

“When he was Prince, Charles came to visit St Andrew’s in 2000. I thought it would be helpful to write him a letter with photos of his visit, reminding him about it and outlining how the charity has developed since he last came. I also invited him to visit again. King Charles promised to read it, so I’m very hopeful that he will agree to return to see us all again one day,” he said.

St Andrew’s Healthcare’s CEO Dr Vivienne McVey said: “ We are immensely proud and appreciative of our volunteers – who do amazing things for our patients – but the number of years that Mary and Roger have clocked up between them is astounding.”