West Hill poet receives thank you letter from Buckingham Palace

Betty Williams with a thank you letter from the Queen for a poem she wrote for the Queen's 90th birt

Betty Williams with a thank you letter from the Queen for a poem she wrote for the Queen's 90th birthday. Ref sho 21-16AW 7926. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

Famed as a generous ‘anonymous benefactor’, Betty Williams has now received royal recognition

A widow who won international acclaim for her generosity has now received personal thanks from the Queen for a birthday poem she penned.

Betty Williams, 87, says she was surprised and honoured when a letter embossed with the royal stamp arrived at her West Hill home, along with a card and photograph of Elizabeth II.

Now famed as the ‘anonymous benefactor’ who touched hearts around the world with her generous plan to pay for 40 people to join her for Christmas dinner, the pensioner is also a prolific and published poet.

With the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations set to sweep across the country this summer, Betty was inspired to honour the occasion with a dedication to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch in a poem called The Promise (printed in full on page 10).

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She revealed that just last year she had to turn down invitations to both the Queen’s Garden Party and Buckingham Palace because of a lack of mobility, but that the ‘treasured’ thank-you letter helped to make up for missing out.

Betty said: “I would have loved to have seen the gardens and inside Downing Street, but I could not really be on my feet for that long. I wrote the poem towards the end of last year. My friend and neighbour, Robert Neal, has since typed it up for me. It took me one day to write it.

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“I started by thinking about her life and added verses as I thought of them.

“I did not expect to get anything back from the palace when I wrote it.

“As soon as I saw the envelope, I saw the Buckingham Palace postmark.

“It is something I will treasure for some time.”

Betty says she wrote her first poem at the age of five and has penned many pieces over the years, seeking inspiration from the things she sees around her.

Her lunch for people who would otherwise be alone at Christmas not only made headlines around the world, but also resulted in a flood of donations that have enabled several repeat events.

A long-term admirer of the Queen, Betty says it is fitting that the next free meal for people in the parish will be held as part of the 90th birthday celebrations.

She said it was a ‘hoot’ that her generous gesture was so well received and was pleased that the legacy could continue thanks to people’s contributions.

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