There was an added air of excitement at the annual Parents Night and Prizegiving for the members of 5th NI Methodist City Mission Girls Brigade Company - who celebrated their 90th birthday.
Parents and friends had filled Clooney Hall Methodist hall for what promised to be a fabulous night of fun, games and awards, but none of the girls had any idea there would be a special dimension to the celebrations - a letter from Windsor Castle, containing a special message from HM The Queen, who had celebrated her 90th birthday the day before.
The letter was written on April 15, and the Captain of the ‘Clooney Hall GB’ Janette Connor kept the letter a closely-guarded secret until Friday night, when it was read out to the girls in front of all their guests amid squeals of delight and applause.
“The girls were definitely in celebratory mood on Friday night for their GB display and parents night,” said Janette.
“But the letter was an extra special surprise for them,” she said.
In her letter to the girls the Queen’s lady-in-Waiting, Richenda Elton, said: “The Queen wishes me to write and thank you for the card and letter you have sent on the occasion of Her Majesty’s ninetieth birthday. The Queen was interested to learn that your si one of the oldest companies in Northern Ireland, and that you will celebrate reaching this milestone with a special display on Friday, 22nd April. Her Majesty hopes this event is a successful and enjoyable one for all involved. I am to send you The Queen’s best wishes and thank you, once again, for your thought for Her Majesty at this time.”
Recalling the moment the girls were told, Janette said: “The letter from The Queen generated quite a bit of excitement. The girls had written to The Queen wishing her a happy birthday, so when they discovered that The Queen had written to them to mark the Company’s 90th birthday, having just celebrated her own, they were very excited. We will get it framed now.”
See photographs on Pages 1, 14 and 27 and online.