27 OctLyn’s medal – a celebration on behalf of all our Butterfly children
On Tuesday 17th October 2017, Lyn Gould was officially awarded her MBE by HRH The Princess Royal in the Grand Ballroom, Buckingham Palace for the work she has done for the children in China through Butterfly Children’s Hospices. Lyn travelled to London with her husband and charity co-founder Alan, her mum, her son and daughter in law and her beloved grandsons, who would all be present for her big moment. In this blog, she shares her thoughts from the day.
“Suitably dolled up in hats, fascinators, suits and waistcoats, we bundled into two taxis to be at the Palace no later than 10am. We arrived a whole hour early, so had lots of time to enjoy the autumn sunshine, being photographed by tourists. Chatting to other early birds arriving for investiture, I realise how amazing and very modest people are; what many have achieved is extraordinary and inspirational. As individuals, I don’t think we feel like that – maybe because we’ve lived the hard days and nights, been emotionally affected by our causes, fought the battles and not stood still long enough to enjoy the fruits and successes, always onto the next phase!”
“I went up a rather splendid staircase, flanked by the household Cavalry Guards, resplendent in their uniforms, the guests moved to the left to be seated in the Ballroom and recipients to the right to be greeted and eventually instructed in the art of being invested. Even though they have done this countless times, they managed to make us feel special and relaxed as they ran through the process: the bows, curtsies and how to move from one ‘guide’ to the next. NOW I was beginning to feel nervous – the thought of the 1,2,3 steps, turn to HRH and small curtsey before walking forward to the dais – ‘DO NOT GET ONTO THE DAIS, TOES NEARLY TOUCHING THE EDGE PLEASE’.
“Afterwards the instruction was ‘3 steps backwards, curtsey, turn right and walk out of the doorway opposite where someone will stop you, take your medal off, put it in a box and pass you onto the next member of the household’. The next guy said ‘please tell me in one sentence what you have done in China, my wife will want to know’ – so I had a pleasant couple of minutes telling him simply what we did. I was then directed to his colleague in the ballroom, who ushered me into a seat to watch the rest of the ceremony.
“As my group were led out of the ‘holding room’ there were a few nervous giggles – after all the waiting during which time we were able to watch the ceremony live on screen and try to pick out where our guests were sitting. As the group entered and crossed the back of the ballroom I spotted Alan and my family seated in perfect place with a great view of me as I waited – we did the ‘I’m not waving really’ wave to each other and I felt really happy they were all there. They were smiling and excited as well.
“My turn came. As I waited in the doorway, the usher chatted and adjusted the angle of my hat, advising me to look upwards a bit so HRH could see my face. Before I knew it I was moving forward into the room to wait by the big guy in the uniform, ready to move on when I was announced and my surname was spoken (if I didn’t move at the right moment he would push me in the back!).
“Actually I was really happy and proud, my family were smiling broadly and I was praying I wouldn’t fall over my own feet as I curtsied – I didn’t. One, two, three, turn, curtsey and walk forward, toes to edge of dais. HRH was smiling broadly and popped the medal onto the hook placed on my dress earlier. She chatted about her visit to Butterfly in July and hoped it would have done some good to the charity and the future of children’s palliative care in China. Then she was shaking my hand and I was trying to walk backwards elegantly in shoes that were actually killing me by then, curtsied (of a sort) turned and walked slowly out – beaming at my family, so happy they could share the day with Alan and me.”
“During the day I was aware that I had a special little bag tucked in my clothes over my heart. The bag contained two objects which represented all the children and families – a little green glass heart given to me by the adopting Mum of a little girl we cared for in the Butterfly Home. This heart represents all those children who have found love, joy and a new life after all the suffering and pain of abandonment and illness.
“The other object was a little piece of jade on a red thread. It was on the wrist of a 6-month old little girl who was in the end stage of liver disease, abandoned in hospital the day she came to Butterfly – she was in terrible pain and desperate for her mother. I was desperate for her parents as well. What a terrible decision they had to make, to leave her in the hope she would get the care she needed, when they couldn’t pay or bear to see her suffer any more.
“This jade bracelet would have been given to her by her parents – she was a loved and wanted little girl. I kept it when she died as she was very special to me, one of the many who get into your heart deeply. Also, I was fairly certain that it would be stolen at the crematorium and sold, not valued.
“For me, this jade represents all the children, lost in the system, uncared for and unloved. It represents all the parents who have ‘lost’ and cannot find out what happened to their child or even mention that child again.
“I wanted them all to be there as they are such a huge part of the story and of MY story. They have moved me and shaped the woman I am now. I wanted to honour them and give them dignity – to be there as the honour was conferred. Just as my family was there, the children and their families were there too.
“People have been very thrilled by this award to me (as of course I am) but an award like this rarely represents one person’s efforts. It may be that only one person gets the medal but in reality it has been the hard work and sacrifice of many, in this case – particularly Alan. To sell your business and leave the life you have built in England for the unknown of China is a major step of love, courage and faith. It was Alan who organised all the renovations, doing much of it himself, set up the admin and finance systems, shopped, cooked and generally looked after me, keeping me sane and driving me mad in equal measure – as I’m sure I did him! He loved the children and there was nothing he wouldn’t do to make sure they were well looked after and happy. He modelled a loving father, playing with them, comforting them when they cried, weeping over them in his arms as they died.
“Since I heard about the award I have tried to recall all those who have played a part in the story, realising it is impossible! This one will be for another blog post someday! But for the time being, I am extremely thankful to everyone who has contributed to this dream and enabled us to make a difference for so many children so far, and for all of those children to come through our doors in the future. Thank you to each and every family member, friend, trustee, donor, volunteer, supporter from across all corners of the World and to the Chinese government officials who have backed this dream – without each hand who has helped, this would not have been possible.”
We are so proud of our CEO, Lyn, and her husband Alan for this incredible achievement and the importance of this for the continued work within China! Of course, none of this could happen without all of our supporters who have been part of the big, life changing dreams for the Butterfly children. This is a celebration for us all.