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AN alternative medicine practitioner who came to Ballywalter from her native Borneo was amongst the guests at a recent Buckingham Palace reception.

Tina McCutcheon chatted with King Charles and his Queen Consort Camilla at the event, which was held on February 1st to celebrate British East and South-East Asian communities.

In keeping with the request on the invitation, Tina and other guests wore national costume.

In Tina’s case this was a striking black velvet full-length dress featuring gold buttons and extensive gold braiding, representing the national tribe of Borneo.

Says Tina: “The Royal Family have been out to what were these Commonwealth countries. The King immediately recognised my outfit and had obviously been there a few times and had seen people wearing that outfit before.

“The Queen had never been to Borneo before and asked for the photograph with me.

“The King and Queen Consort were very pleasant, very down to earth and they asked me about myself.

“I said I was from Borneo but that I lived in Ballywalter near Greyabbey as I knew they knew the Montgomerys (owners of Greyabbey House).

“I told them I was doing alternative medicine and the King said it should be on the National Health Service. He obviously approves of alternative medicine.”

Other guests attending the three hour reception were the television presenter and fashion designer Alexa Chung, the Crown Prince of Malaysia and fashion designer John Rocha with his wife Simone.

Tina also chatted with Princess Anne, Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and his sister Princess Alexandra.

“A lot of people put the effort in and wore their national dress and particularly striking were the people from Mongolia,” says Tina.

She adds: “The idea was to mingle and talk about what you do. Quite a few of us were involved in various charities in different capacities. There was a lady who I met who was working on slavery type issues with Filipino maids.

“There was also a guy from Japan and he had set up a school for underprivileged Japanese children to teach them about their culture so that they don’t lose it.”

Tina first moved to the UK as a young student, training as a nurse in London and later becoming a ward sister at a hospital baby unit in Dunstable.

She went on to study for her PHD in complementary medicine and came to Ballywalter after marrying.


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