THE chairman of an RNLI group rubbed shoulders with royalty after an invitation to a Buckingham Palace garden party.

Hartlepool RNLI chairman Malcolm Cook and his wife Marjorie were invited to the palace in recognition for his work at the Ferry Road lifeboat station over the years.

Mr Cook, who has been a member of the RNLI at Hartlepool for over 30 years, said: ‘It was a complete surprise to receive the invite but an honour and a privilege to be able to attend the event.

"There were thousands of people present but we still managed to bump into a few other people from Hartlepool and we also caught a glimpse of Princess Anne and the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were also present.

"I was stopped several times by guests when they noticed my RNLI badge and they had nothing but praise for our volunteer crew members and the service we provide which made me feel exceptionally proud to be part of the charity that saves lives at sea’.

‘It’s not every day that you get the chance to have a cup of tea and a piece of cake at Buckingham Palace but it’s just as good to fly the flag for the Hartlepool RNLI in London.

" We had a fantastic day with memories that will stay with us forever."