Rochdale Borough Council’s literature development officer Suzanne Heslan was invited by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy to a reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate British contemporary poetry last month.
The 29-year-old, who has worked for Rochdale Borough Council since 2009, was given the honour for helping to organise the first ever Literature and Ideas Festival, which took place in October.
Suzanne said: “It was an amazing, memorable experience. I felt really privileged to be there. Meeting the Queen fulfilled a lifelong dream.”
Following a year of organising the event, the host of activities included readings of her own work by Carol Ann Duffy and the Poet Laureate also honoured the next-generation of talented wordsmiths by presenting awards at the Young Person’s Writing Awards Evening.
Suzanne said: “Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival has received royal recognition and for me to represent this at Buckingham Palace is truly a dream come true - way beyond all possible imagination. There was a buzz to the whole evening and I kept having to pinch myself.”
Among the other guests were a mixture of actors, singers, poets, teachers and literary event’s organisers. Readings in the ballroom of the palace were given by the Poet Laureate, as well as Belfast Laureate Sinead Morrissey, Welsh Laureate Gillian Clarke, Scotland's Elizabeth Lochhead and John Agard, who won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
Suzanne added: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found myself supping champagne and eating canapés alongside the likes of actress Joanna Lumley and actor Timothy West.”
Suzanne, who lives in Elton, Bury, has been Literature Development Officer for Rochdale Central Library’s The Maskew Collection for almost three years.
Other cultural events organised by Suzanne include Lord Byron’s birthday celebration at Rochdale Town Hall and the hugely popular Burns Night at The Baum.
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