Queen honours stars for Diamond Jubilee celebrations

Gary Barlow was among those to attend the reception at Buckingham Palace

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Celebrities who worked on the celebrations for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year have attended a reception thanking them for their contribution.

Among those invited to the event at Buckingham Palace, hosted by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, were singer Gary Barlow and chef Heston Blumenthal.

Barlow organised the Diamond Jubilee concert at the palace in June.

The Take That star was later awarded an OBE for services to the entertainment industry and to charity.

Barlow, who is also a judge on ITV1's X Factor, co-wrote the Jubilee anthem Sing with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. It reached number one in the singles charts during the summer.

Barlow said: "I just thought the event deserved such notice from everybody and I think everybody was so proud that the Queen had made it to this point and the amazing job she has done for so long for us all. We were all just proud to be a part of it."

Heston Blumenthal and the Queen Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal was involved in creating Jubilee picnic hampers

When asked about the concert, he said: "I was looking round thinking 'Are we really here?' It was totally incredible and luckily everything went to plan.

"I think we got it right, I think it opened up an amazing summer for our country."

Before the Jubilee show began on a special bank holiday weekend in June, 12,000 ticket holders had picnicked in the grounds of the palace, eating from a hamper created by Blumenthal and the Queen's royal chef, Mark Flanagan.

Speaking at the reception, Blumenthal described his Jubilee experience as "amazing".

He said: "I was really pleased with it. It was the challenge of taking something that had an historical framework and showcasing British produce."

'Magical summer'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the former culture secretary, said the Diamond Jubilee weekend celebrations - added to London's hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games - had meant that the summer had been a special period for the UK.

He said: "The Jubilee was the start of a totally magical summer, something that brought the country together and made everyone feel how incredibly lucky we are to have someone like the Queen at the centre of our national life."

Lord Salisbury, one of the senior organisers of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant and chairman of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Foundation, also attended the reception.

Hundreds of ships took to the River Thames during the pageant to honour the Queen, who sailed with her family on the royal barge at the head of the flotilla.

Lord Salisbury said: "I thought it was a triumph, the whole thing - I thought the country took a look at itself and rather to its surprise rather liked what it saw.

"It was nice because it wasn't triumphalist, and there was an element of surprise about it. What I liked about it was [people] understood the Queen embodied the nation - that's what she does."

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