Real Lives

‘Queen of Clean’ resident joins housekeeping team

Handley House care home in York has ‘recruited’ a former Buckingham Palace employee: 82 year-old resident Judith Gray, as part of their housekeeping team.

Judy has lived at the Green Lane home since February this year and has been volunteering one morning a week with the housekeeping team to help keep the home spick and span, drawing on her experience of working in the Royal Household.

Judy grew up in York and attended St Lawrence’s Church of England school with her 6 siblings.  She left school aged 14 and began working as a trainee waitress at the exclusive Royal Station Hotel, now The Principal York Hotel, adjacent to York station.

Judy excelled at her role and was soon headhunted by Buckingham Palace to work as the Queen’s personal waitress. Judy is incredibly proud of her time at the palace, she said, ‘It was my privilege to work for the Queen, it was such an interesting job and an extraordinary place to work. The Queen is a wonderful person and I was able to really get to know her in the years I served her.  She is very kind, caring and well-mannered!’.

Whilst working at the palace, Judy met her now Husband, Chaz Gray, and the couple are set to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary next month. Judy recalled, ‘We always had a blast on shift together!’. Chaz and Judy left their jobs at the palace when Chaz joined the RAF. They travelled all over the world before returning to settle in York to raise their family.

Head of Housekeeping at Handley House, Daniel Richardson, said, ‘Judy is an absolute delight to have around the home and gives us a brilliant boost when she is ‘on shift’. She has been a great help, giving us all her best tips and tricks that she learnt from her time at the palace!’.

Judy helps around the home by cleaning with her favourite pink feather duster and helping to set tables ahead of mealtimes, ensuring the napkins are folded and cutlery polished.  She even has her own Handley House staff uniform and name badge!

Home Manager, Rachel McNally, said, ‘We have the best residents living with us at Handley House and I am so pleased to personally know each and every one of them and be able to help them to live life to the full. When Judy said she wanted to help out around the home my heart melted and of course I had to get her a uniform and name badge!  We love listening to her stories of her time at the palace, and she is a valued part of our team.’

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