Our CEO Charlotte Carson was invited to represent LOOK at the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday 9th May. It was the first garden party of 2024, just one year after the Coronation of King Charles 111 and Camilla.

Charlotte was invited by His Majesty’s the King’s Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire Edward Harley CBE, as a recognition of the good work LOOK does in Herefordshire and across the UK. Charlotte chose to take LOOK’s cofounder and Patron, Jennifer Bowen, who also happens to be her mother.

Jennifer says:

“It was wonderful to be at Buckingham Palace for the first time, to see the King, Queen Camilla, Princess Royal and other members of the Royal Family. It was especially good to see the King looking so well after his cancer treatment. Thank you to the Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire for the invitation to take part in this very special day. I would also like to say thank you to LOOK’s funders and supporters and all the staff, volunteers and parent carers in the LOOK community. It makes me very proud to realise that LOOK has made a difference to so many people’s lives. It was recognition of everything we set out to achieve and our vision for families with visually impaired children to have a voice and be part of the national conversation. Charlotte’s sight loss led me into a very different world as a campaigner, and I am proud that so many others carry on that legacy, not least my wonderful daughter, Blind CEO Charlotte Carson.

Let’s continue to work towards a world where every visually impaired young person has access to education and support to achieve their goals and dreams.”

Jennifer Bowen, cofounder of LOOK and Charlotte Carson, CEO of LOOK ready to go to the Palace for the Royal Garden party. Jennifer wears a purple and blue silk trouser suit and a sllk cream summer jacket with a silk cream scarf and a gold fascinator on her head, and sunglasses.  Charlotte wears a blue summer day dress with a lighter blue pattern. She is wearing a lovely straw hat. They are smiling and posing in front of a white wall with a tree and climbers and flowering pots.

Charlotte also felt the significance of being invited to the Royal Garden Party. She says:

“LOOK has come a long way since it was launched at the House of Commons in 1991, and it was a beautiful day to reflect on this at the Royal Garden Party. We were fortunate to be funded by The Queen’s Trust and the Mountbatten Foundation, and I am incredibly thankful for their support and recognition.

The Palace was filled with people who came to celebrate and be celebrated, and it was a lovely way to mark 33 years of LOOK’s progress. As I soaked in the incredible atmosphere, I couldn’t help but appreciate how fortunate I am to have had campaigning parents who founded the first parent support network for families with visually impaired children. They fought for me to have access to education when I lost my sight at the age of seven, and ended up helping so many other families.

Being at the Palace was truly special, and I had the chance to share this occasion with my mother. It was a moment to appreciate the impact of LOOK and how it has helped a generation of families with visually impaired children. Some of them, like me, were the earliest beneficiaries and now work or volunteer with LOOK.

Thank you again to The Queen’s Trust and the Mountbatten Foundation for their support and to the Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire for the invitation to this wonderful tradition that began in the 1860s.”

Read more about our amazing founder here and about the history of LOOK.

Charlotte and Jennifer were joined by Becky Strzadala. Becky is usually in charge of LOOK’s admin and data, but her role for the Royal garden party was as Charlotte’s support worker and official photographer. Thanks Becky for these fab photos!

Anticipation at the Gates at the Palace.

LOOK's admin and data Lead Becky with Look cofounder Jennifer Bowen and LOOk CEO Charlotte Carson outside the gates of Buckingham Palace

They let us in – waiting for tea outside the Royal Tea Tent.

Becky, Jennifer and Charlotte outside the royal tea tent with the marquee and a sign saying royal tea tent behind them. Charlotte and Becky are wearing pretty day dresses  - both with a spotted pattern and Jennifer is wearing purple and blue smart summer trouser suit. Becky and Jennifer are wearing facinators (little headresses) and Charlotte has a straw summer hat and is carrying her white cane. They all look very happy to be outside the Royal Tea Tent at the King's Garden Party.

Definitely worth waiting for ….

Charlotte Carson, LOOK CEO, wearing a blue summer day dress and straw hat sitting enjoying tea and a royal spread of sandwiches and cakes

Majestic Mouthfuls

A close up of Charlotte's plate of royal cream tea with long finger sandwhich, mini quiche and little cakes with cream and strawberries. One of the cakes even has an edible gold crown emblem on top

The National Anthem played out as the Royal couple came out onto the terrace.

We might not have been able to see them, but the atmosphere was incredible.

Wonderful to be serenaded by one of the Military Bands.

A momentous and magical day – blessed with the sunshine.

A photo of the assembled crowd standing waiting in a huge arch with the palace behind and a Yeoman warden, guard from the Tower of London fondly nicknamed Beefeaters - holding a staff and flag with green immaculate lawns in front

And with “Beefeaters” – the famous Yeoman Wardens had been let off guarding the Tower of London to keep the Royal Garden Party guests safe instead.

Charlotte captured with a beefeater in his famous red and gold uniform with a gold Crown embroidered on his back and other royal insignia

Just time to say thank you….

And then it was time to head home and rest, feeling proud, happy and grateful to all who support LOOK to help young visually impaired people and their families to thrive.

Charlotte and Jennifer captured from behind as they walk towards the Palace on their way out