A CRAFTSMAN who built a sledge for Prince George has been invited to Buckingham Palace.

Retired Malcolm Rolling, who made a wooden sled for Prince George, and who is awaiting instructions on the delivery of a sledge he has made for Princess Charlotte, received an invitation from Buckingham Palace to attend a summer garden party on Thursday, May 31.

Mr Rolling, 74, a retired Durham University technician, said: “I was absolutely chuffed to bits when I received the invitation. It is such a great honour to be invited to the palace. I was gobsmacked when we received the letter and am delighted to have been invited.”

However, Mr Rolling, who suffers from myasthenia gravis – an auto immune disorder – said he and his wife are unable to travel to the capital for the occasion because of his health, so they have organised a Royal Garden Party at Durham City Rugby Club instead.

Father of two Mr Rolling said: “We have had a number of offers from friends to take us to London, but I’m not able to travel, so we decided to celebrate the Royal Garden Party here in Durham.”

The party at the rugby club, where Mr Rolling was a former player and former club president, is for family and friends and will be held on Thursday, May 31, only days after Mrs Rolling’s 80th birthday. There will be a buffet similar to the buffets served at the Royal garden parties, and entertainment.

Mr Rolling took up making bespoke sledges in his garage at home about eight years ago, following a diagnosis of bowel cancer. He said: “I had bowel cancer and making the sledges keeps me fit and busy. When I’m out making my sledges, it’s the only time I don’t feel ill.”

Since then, he has made more than 500 – and has sold many in aid of charity, raising around £12,000 for good causes including St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham City, the Royal British Legion and the Great North Air Ambulance. He has also made several for the children and grandchildren of old friends from Durham City Rugby Club, where he played for three decades before serving as president.

Mr Rolling, of Carrville, Durham City, said: “We are obviously disappointed that we cannot make it to London, but we will make sure we have a great time at our Royal party in at the rugby club.”