#LockdownLegend coronavirus Local News

Andover Isolation Group’s ‘Royal Appointment’

The Duchess Of Cambridge - Christmas Carol Concert Andover Isolation Help Group
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the Anna Freud Centre Family School Christmas Party at Anna Freud Centre on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The Duchess joined groups of families in Festive activities designed to help pupils reflect on the positive progress in their social relationships and communication skills. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

HRH the Duchess of Cambridge has sent a special invitation to two people in Andover to attend this year’s Christmas Carol Service at Westminster Abbey.

However the invitees say the honour is relevant to almost 150 volunteers from Andover.

Thanks to a recommendation from the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Kate Middleton has asked Victoria Harber and Keith Skitt from the Love Andover Isolation Help Group to attend the carol service this Wednesday (8th December 2021), which will be broadcast on ITV on Christmas Eve at 7.30pm.

The invitation was arranged by Nigel Atkinson Esq, who identified the work of the Love Andover Isolation Help Group as a group that ‘stepped up to support the community’ through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Originally the ‘Self-Isolation Help Group’ was set-up by teacher Tori Rist and landlady Victoria Harber in mid-March 2020 to help those over 70 years old, those most at risk of the emerging Coronavirus pandemic. 

Within 3 months and during the first full lockdown, their efforts based at the Queen Charlotte Inn (now closed) on London Road, had almost 150 volunteers who were collecting, organising and delivering essential foods, household items and medications to hundreds of people in and around Andover every day. 

Recipient of the future Queen’s invitation Victoria Harber says, “I wish I could get all 150 volunteers who dedicated so much of their time and skills to the group to come with us. 

“It’s a great honour to represent those great people from Andover who did so much to help so many.

“Moreover, It will be a real privilege to represent Andover and stand among so many more amazing people from across the UK who have also done so much to help others in the face of such adversity.”

Hello Magazine was excited to share that invitations sent out were headed by the Duchess’ gold ‘C’ monogram.  Our Andover recipients’ invitations were received on the recommendation of Nigel Atkinson, the Queen’s personal representative in Hampshire. 

Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson Esq, has a military background having been educated at Imperial Service College and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  He was appointed the President of the SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) in Hampshire in September this year.

Keith Skitt was nominated as a Lockdown Legend during the first lockdown, his strategic thinking prevented people most at risk from the virus from standing for up to five hours in queues at local pharmacies.  Having build relationships with local medical centres, Mr Skitt is now working at Shepherd’s Spring Pharmacy.

Kensington Palace said this year’s Carol Service will “…bring together inspirational individuals who have gone above and beyond to care for and protect those in need during the pandemic.”

Fewer people have been invited to Westminster Abbey this year to ‘minimise risk’ of Covid-19. 

Kensington Palace added, “Guests will range from those involved in grassroots community initiatives, to teachers, emergency responders and armed forces personnel.

They will be joined by those working in some of the key areas that Her Royal Highness and The Royal Foundation continue to focus on, including promoting the importance of mental health”.

The service will be recorded at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday afternoon and will be broadcast by ITV at 7:30pm on Christmas Eve.