14 Mar 2016
A 69-year-old cyclist touring England visited older people from two retirement properties in Berwick Upon Tweed so they could sign a 90th birthday card for the Queen.
Terry Keen, from Surrey, set off on his 1,400-mile journey from King James Court in West Street at 9am today (14 March) so that older people living there and from the local community could sign the card. Tenants from nearby The Granary in Love Lane were also able to join the party.
As well as collecting more than an estimated 3,000 signatures on the specially-designed birthday card, charity cyclist Terry is asking people to make donations to charity Grandparent Plus.
The charity has revealed there are 1,020 children in Northumberland being raised by grandparents and other family members because their parents are unable to do so, often as a result of difficult family circumstances.
Terry is visiting 90 properties run by Anchor whose Patron is the Queen’s Cousin, Princess Alexandra. He will next travel to Alnwick before making his way to Newcastle, Birmingham, London and reaching Helston in Cornwall on 9 May. He will then travel to London to hand in the card to Buckingham Palace.
Tenants at King James Court invited members of the local community and older people from The Granary to their Big Breakfast, the dress code for which was red, white and blue.
Leading the send-off party at King James Court was Mrs Bella Wilkinson, 90, who said everyone wanted to attend the send-off party for Terry as it was an impressive challenge he was undertaking.
Bella, who was married the same year as the Queen and whose first child was born the same year as Prince Charles, said: “It’s really something that Terry is travelling around the whole of England to bring this birthday card for us to sign. It means so much to us because we all think very highly of her Majesty.”
Pensioner Terry, whose wife, Jacquie, remains at home in Surrey while he completes this tour, said he had been looking forward to visiting Berwick for the first time in his life.
Terry said: “It will be very tiring cycling all this way and I have many miles ahead but knowing it’s for a good cause will really spur me on.
“I admire the Queen for all her hard work and for being such a wonderful ambassador for the country. I wanted to give something special to her on her 90th birthday so thought why not a birthday card signed by older people from across the country.
“The Queen and I are both grandparents so it seemed relevant to raise money for Grandparents Plus which is such a worthwhile charity.
“The card is also a good way for older people across the country to feel part of this national celebration – not many other people will have signed a birthday card that has travelled around England and will be read by the Queen!”
Lucy Peake, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus, said: “It’s heart-warming that Terry is supporting our work.
“Grandparents and other family members who step in to raise children, in often very difficult circumstances, are repeatedly forgotten within society and by the government. The money that Terry and all the Anchor events, taking place across the country, raise will enable us to reach more grandparent and family carers and ensure they receive the support they need.”