Table tennis volunteers Gary Howes and Ken Eliot were thrilled to keep a royal appointment with the King at a Buckingham Palace garden party.

Both table tennis volunteers received BEMs in The King’s Birthday Honours last year and were invited to the Palace occasion last month. Ken attended with his wife Judith (pictured above).

It was one of the first engagements carried out by His Majesty King Charles after pausing his public engagements while undergoing cancer treatment.

The King was joined in the Palace gardens by Queen Camilla, the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester as well as guests drawn from all walks of life.

The weather was kind as warm afternoon sunshine greeted the party-goers.

Gary Howes at the palace

Gary, who attended with his wife Suzie, said: “It was a positively overwhelming experience of a lifetime, with over 8,000 attendees, stunningly hot weather . . . you couldn’t have had a better day for it.”

Gary, who is founder and head coach at Byng Hall TTC, the club where Paralympic champion Will Bayley started his career, received his BEM for services to table tennis, young people and the community in Tunbridge Wells.

Ken, a Table Tennis England vice-president who has devoted more than 30 years to supporting table tennis at a national level, received the same honour for services to table tennis.

A photo of the Royal party taken by Gary