Gabriella fulfils Granny's last wish by collecting Youth Ballet founder's CBE


A 10-year-old ballerina has carried out one of her late grandmother's final wishes by picking up a CBE on her behalf at Buckingham Palace.

Gabriella Rummery, from Brasted in Kent, wore a dress chosen by Jill Tookey before she died from pancreatic cancer aged 79 on March 25.

The Prince of Wales gave the young dancer Ms Tookey's honour for services to dance and young people, and afterwards Gabriella said Charles spoke to her about how her grandmother turned his book The Old Man Of Lochnagar into a ballet.

"He said 'Oh yes, your granny said for me to come and watch', and I said 'Yeah, that would be amazing'," she told the Press Association.

Ms Tookey set up and ran the National Youth Ballet for 29 years and Gabriella is a dancer there.

The late ballet supremo was given permission from Charles to turn The Old Man Of Lochnagar into a ballet, and the NYB are dancing the show again later this year in Ms Tookey's honour, which was another of her last wishes.

Speaking about her grandmother, Gabriella said she would have been "really happy" about the trip to the Palace.

"Granny was fun. And she was arty, and always happy," she said, adding: "I will remember her as a fun and amazing grandma."

Gabriella's mother, Camilla, 42, said: "I was with her literally on her last days, minutes, and she really wanted Gabriella to pick it up because she's the only granddaughter for one, but she wanted to encourage Ella to follow her dreams.

"And my mum got to where she got by dreaming big and never giving up on something and always saying yes to something, rather than 'I can't do that', just yes, and seeing the impossible and making it happen. And I think that's what she really wanted to instil in Gabriella."

As founder and artistic director of the NYB, Ms Tookey inspired and encouraged thousands of children to go on to have professional careers in dance and the arts.

Looking ahead to the future, Gabriella said: "What I want to be when I'm older is something amazing that can change the world in a good way."

Also picking up an honour was former HM Revenue and Customs chief executive Dame Lin Homer, who faced intense criticism from MPs while holding key Civil Service roles.

She was made a Dame for her public service, particularly to public finance.

Dame Lin, who did not speak to the press after receiving her honour, came under fire last year for her handling of tax-dodgers, and in January she was accused of allowing HSBC to get away "scot-free" over the activities of its private Swiss bank.

Appearing before the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Dame Lin confirmed it was "unlikely" that HSBC would face prosecution over claims that its Swiss branch routinely helped wealthy clients to evade tax.

Her admission drew an angry response from MPs on the committee, who said it was "extraordinary" that HSBC would face no action from the British authorities even though it was domiciled in the UK.

Dame Lin faced further criticism after she claimed that HMRC's customer service was improving, even though almost one in five calls were not answered within six minutes.

She faced a scathing attack by MPs for her ''catastrophic leadership failure'' when she was in charge of the UK Border Agency.

Dame Lin went on to become head of Britain's tax office but was forced to defend the department after securing only one prosecution from a list of 6,800 UK-related secret Swiss bank accounts provided in 2010 by French authorities.

HMRC said she had led the department "through a period of recovery and significant performance improvements", including a reduction in the tax gap and an increase in the number of customer calls being answered from 48% in 2011 to almost 90% in December 2015.

Others picking up honours on Thursday included literary agent Ed Victor, who received a CBE for services to literature; chief executive of the LGBT Consortium Paul Roberts, who received an OBE for services to LGBT communities; and Captain Naveed Muhammad who received an MBE for his work with ethnic minorities.

Sir Jack Petchey, 90, received a knighthood for services to young people in east London and Essex through the Jack Petchey Foundation.

And Major Geoffrey Faraday, of the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps, became only the third person to receive the New Zealand Gallantry Star, awarded to him for gallantry in the field in Southern Sudan.

Mr Victor, 76, from New York City, founded the Ed Victor literary agency, and said Charles mentioned that his wife's son Tom Parker Bowles is currently writing something for the agent.

Mr Victor, who has British citizenship, said Mr Parker Bowles is writing the Fortnum and Mason cookbook. "And we talked about Fortnum and Mason and what a great job Ewan Venters, the CEO, who's a friend of his and mine, was doing," he said.

Asked if he thinks Charles is a regular customer at Fortnum and Mason, Mr Victor said: "I know he is. And his wife certainly is."

Pushed on whether he thinks they get their weekly groceries from the upmarket store, Mr Victor said: "I have no idea, but maybe."

Talking about his honour, he joked that when he received the envelope containing the news he thought at first that it was a tax bill.

Mr Victor said he is celebrating by throwing a party for 100 of his closest friends. 


Capt Muhammad, 47, of the Royal Signals, Army Reserve, who was born in Kenya but now lives in Birmingham, has been involved in a number of initiatives to improve links between the British Army and minority communities, especially with Muslim communities.

Speaking about what he and Charles talked about, he said: "We spoke about how important it is to do this sort of work and also about how best we can improve the attraction of serving in the military but perhaps even improve the image of the cadet forces, so improve the take-up of minority groups into the cadet forces."

He said there has been a "slow but steady improvement", adding that there is still some work to do.

"I think we are getting better at how we engage with these communities. The key thing is about creating mutual understanding.

"As long as we can understand communities better, and communities understand us better, then the recruitment will come down the line.

"It's not something that's going to happen immediately but I think we're heading in the right direction," he said

Mr Roberts, 35, from Taunton in Somerset, recognised for his services to LGBT communities, said he and Charles discussed equal marriage.

Asked if he got the impression Charles was interested in the issue, Mr Roberts said: "Yes, surprisingly so actually."

He added: "He did seem genuinely interested."

Mr Roberts said the letter notifying him of his honour was sent to the wrong address and his colleague got a phone call from an official wanting to speak to him. The official told his colleague what it was about.

"She thought it was a joke so she laughed at the person down the phone, phoned me straight away, she was like 'you'll never believe the phone call I've just taken'," he said.

Mr Roberts said lots of emails followed and he was in such a state of disbelief that he set about trying to verify the official's email address in case it was a prank.

"I genuinely thought this could still be a joke," he said.

Mr Roberts said he is "totally honoured obviously and really grateful" but feels he has so much more to achieve.