A CHARITY boss attending Buckingham Palace to receive his MBE was stunned when he spotted a guard who he had helped as a homeless teenager.
Long-serving Richmond YMCA chief executive Ken Allinson said after receiving his honour from the Queen he walked through the Household Cavalry's Staircase Party guard of honour when one of the soldiers decided he wanted to make himself noticed by winking at him.
Mr Allinson, who attended the investiture with Carol Treweek, a former colleague at the charity dedicated to giving young people a fresh start, said the soldier then smiled at them and said: "Hello Carol".
The pair soon recognised the cavalryman as Kris, a former homeless Catterick boy who had come to them for help in 1996, aged 17, after his parents had separated.
Kris, whose surname is withheld, had been a resident of the Richmond branch for two years before joining the Army and eventually became a member of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, which mounts the Queen's Life Guard at Horse Guards, as well as performing operational roles in armoured fighting vehicles.
After the ceremony, Kris said: “I am delighted that I was on guard duty at the palace when Ken Allinson received his MBE.
"It is 16 years since I walked through the doors of Richmond YMCA and the support he and Carol gave me was priceless.”
Mr Allinson said it was as special to him to find Kris had become a member of the historic regiment as it had been to receive his MBE.
He said he was thrilled to be able to catch up with Kris and learn he was bringing up a young family.
Mr Allinson said: "I was already feeling proud after receiving the award from the Queen, who is also patron of the YMCA, but seeing Kris was an unexpected boost to the day.
“At Richmond YMCA we are often dealing with young people at a crucial stage in their lives, providing not just a roof over their heads, but support and guidance to help them make their way in the world, the sort of support that is generally provided within a family environment.
"So to have that brought home to us within the environment of Buckingham Palace on this very special occasion was especially moving”.
He said the encounter had given him fresh inspiration to lead the charity, which is developing its Market Place building to provide a wider range of services, including a drop-in youth centre and an internet room and training kitchen.