Her Majesty the Queen in Bedfordshire

The Queen officially opens Mid Beds District Council's headquarters.

Cheering crowds braved sporadically foul weather to welcome The Queen to Bedfordshire on Friday.

Her Majesty spent most time at Mid Beds District Council's new 15 million offices at Chicksands, which she officially opened by unveiling a plaque.

Wearing navy blue with matching hat, the Queen was presented to the chairman, leader and chief executive of the district council by the Lord Lieutenant Samuel Whitbread before taking a tour of the building named Priory House.

Other dignitaries had also gathered for lunch with the Queen, including the Bishop of Bedford Richard Inwood, MPs Alistair Burt and Nadine Dorries, Bedford Mayor Frank Branston and other council dignitaries and staff.

On the menu was Scottish salmon, quail eggs, beef wellington plus caramelised pears and a white wine from the Old Warden estate.

His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh also joined the Royal party after a tour of DISC Chicksands, where he met officers and wives of servicemen who are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Eight-year-old Megan Levett, of Shefford Lower School, was chosen to present a posie to the Queen.

She said: "She was very nice but I was a little bit nervous."

Alan Humphreys, chief executive of Aragon Housing Association, was one of those who met Her Majesty.

He said: "I told her we provide affordable homes for those people who can't afford to buy on the open market. She said we certainly do need more affordable homes.

"She mentioned the fact that she is well aware of people having to have very big mortgages and she is aware of the issues regarding affordability.

"She showed an interest and she was definitely listening.

"You are obviously very nervous meeting the Queen but she knows how to put people at ease."

David Bushman, representative for the Mid Beds branch of the Citizens' Advice Bureau, has been a volunteer for the organisation for 13 years and felt privileged to be introduced to the Queen.

He said: "It was a tremendous experience that will stay with me.

"I felt reassured the moment she got out of the car and the way she looked at the children. It was almost as if it was my mum walking in."

He added: "She asked me how the major issue of debt arose and she guessed it was the easy availability of credit, which it is of course. I gave her a couple of amusing stories and she laughed. She is absolutely amazing at her job."

Steve Whittaker, contract services manager for Mid Beds Council, said: "I spoke to her about how we are striving to minimise waste and recycle what we can.

"She latched onto the point I made about stopping supermarkets producing so much packaging. It's obviously something that she has an opinion on."

He added: "She is a charming woman."

Anne Samm and David Lamb, team leaders in planning and development control at the council, also met Her Majesty.

Anne said: "We spoke about what it's like to work in an open plan office. I was nervous but it's much easier in the flesh than when we were rehearsing."

David said: "It was the rehearsals and the build-up that was most nerve-wracking. It was a real honour."

Earlier, the Queen and the Duke had spent the morning at Samuel Whitbread Community College in Clifton.

Her Majesty was presented with a posie of flowers by 15-year-old student Emily Travis.

Emily said: "I welcomed her to the school and said it was a pleasure to meet her."

"I found it really daunting - I thought I was prepared and I was up all last night practising with my mum what I was going to say but as soon as I met her I started shaking and got nervous."

Her Majesty was taken on a tour of the school's facilities before officially opening the new arts and science buildings.

While the Duke of Edinburgh visited Stotfold Mill, the Queen ended her day in Bedfordshire at St John's Hospice in Moggerhanger.

She is patron of Sue Ryder Care and spent around an hour touring the hospice, which cares for people with cancer and other terminal conditions.

Pauline Panter, palliative care services manager, said: "She saw every patient and their relatives and spoke to everybody. She was very interested in them and also met a lot of staff.

"She said 'you must treat your staff very well' because some have been here since we first opened. She also knew a lot about our Day Treatment Centre where people come for treatment and continue living at home, and also about palliative care."

Youngsters Danielle and Cameron Stuart presented The Queen with a posie of flowers which she held onto during the whole tour.

Their mum died at St John's, and along with their dad Barry raise money for the hospice.

Her Majesty told them their efforts were 'wonderful'.

The Queen then met specialist lymphoedema nurses who help relieve limb swelling usually suffered by cancer patients.

The Queen also spoke with day centre patient Mike Smith, from Marston Morteyne, who is living with both cancer and Parkinson's Disease, as he received treatment to strengthen his bones.

Mike, 71, said: "She asked if they were looking after me and all I could say was they are first class. It was a wonderful experience for me."

For a 16-page souvenir pullout of The Queen's visit, see next Friday's Biggleswade Chronicle.