Yes. Four years. How time flies. It was Wednesday 29 February 2012, and I was in London—with Steph, our younger daughter Philippa, and former IRRI colleague Corinta—to attend an investiture at Buckingham Palace.
I was there to receive my OBE that had been awarded in the 2012 New Years Honours, for services to international food science. Since this honour was given after I’d retired from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, I assume it was a recognition of the contributions I’d made to genetic conservation of rice as well as strengthening international support for rice research.
Travelling to London
It was an early start from Bromsgrove, to catch the train from Solihull to London Marylebone Station, where we met Phil, who had traveled down from the northeast. Then a short hop across central London by taxi to arrive at Buckingham Palace in time for the briefing before the actual investiture took place.
As you can imagine, security was tight. We all had to show IDs, and the invitation tickets. I had to be at the Palace about 45 minutes before the investiture, and was surprised to find that I was one of the last to arrive.
Briefing over, and the investiture was also over before it had begun. I’m still surprised how quickly it went, even though it seemed as though HRH The Prince of Wales spent at least five minutes speaking with each of the awardees. It couldn’t have been more than a minute. But he was remarkably well-briefed, and we held a conversation about rice in the Philippines. His opening question being, ‘Are you still working in the Philippines, Dr Jackson?‘
After the ceremony we joined up in the palace courtyard, and outside the gates for more photographs.
It was a memorable occasion for all of us, and after four years I still have that same sense of pride as I did when I first received the letter in November 2011 informing me I had been nominated for the OBE. I rarely take my insignia out of the safe, but this morning I thought I would have a four-year update.