Skegness Hospital Watch founder to attend Queen’s Garden Party

Geoff Poulter of Ingoldmells with his invitation to meet the Queen.
Geoff Poulter of Ingoldmells with his invitation to meet the Queen.

The founder of Skegness Hospital Watch Geoff Poulter has been honoured with an invitation to The Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

Geoff and wife Joan will join around 8,000 guests at the showpiece occasion on Tuesday, May 12.

Retired miner Geoff has helped the Skegness Hospital Watch raise around £60,000 since 2005. Formerly known as Save our Beds, the group was formed 10 years ago to campaign against the closure of the Skegness Hospital’s Scarbrough Ward.

Campaign manager Geoff, 74, described the invitation to the royal garden party, which rewards and recognises public service, as a ‘great honour’.

He said: “The letter arrived on April 1 and at first I thought it was a hoax, but when I opened it I could tell it was official. I never thought this would happen, it is a tribute to the work of Hospital Watch and Skegness. It is a bit overwhelming, but I am really looking forward to it. Joan and the rest of the family are over the moon. I have got to buy a new suit and a hat for the wife.”

Geoff worked as a miner in Derbyshire for 32 years and served as an NUM branch official for 25 years.

He moved to Ingoldmells after retiring and was inspired to join the campaign to save Scarbrough Ward after sustaining a serious back injury in an industrial accident.

Told he would never walk again, Geoff eventually regained his mobility following a series of operations.

Since its formation, Hospital Watch has donated medical equipment to the hospital including raising £40,000 for blood testing equipment and providing funding for heart monitor machines.

Geoff also helped to raise £12,000 to provide a specialist standing wheelchair for severely disabled young Skegness man Steven Huckle.

Devoting hours every week promoting and fundraising for Hospital Watch, Geoff is looking forward to a rare break from his duties at the garden party.

Guests can stroll the Buckingham Palace gardens while listening to military bands and enjoy refreshments in the tea tent.

The Queen appears on the West Terrace at 4pm when the National Anthem is played before meeting guests.

Geoff said: “I could never have imagined when I was working down the mines that I would have been invited to something like this. It is going to be a day to remember and something else for the scrapbook.”

Hospital Watch chairman Eddie Gasson said: “I would like to congratulate Geoff and Joan on behalf of the committee and all the people that have supported us. It is a tribute to all the hard work that he does, we cannot thank him enough.”