A KIND-HEARTED campaigner has been recognised by the royal family for his work in the community.

Edward Bell, 29, of Brightlingsea, received a letter from the Duchess of Cambridge inviting him to attend the Together at Christmas carol service at Westminster Abbey.

Edward was nominated by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst and was one of only four people in Essex invited by the Duchess of Cambridge.

Edward said: “Receiving the letter from Buckingham Palace was incredible.

“I recall sitting in Westminster Abbey, almost having to pinch myself and hearing myself whispering ‘Wow’ in sheer awe.

“I was seated in Poets’ Corner directly next to the tombs of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

“It was one of the most surreal, incredible and emotional experiences of my life so far. It was a huge honour to be invited by the Duchess of Cambridge.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic Edward set up an emergency food bank, which became the largest in Tendring and he worked to support other organisations and the NHS.

Edward also set up a project called Tendring Pen Pals in which people wrote to others as part of his mission to end loneliness.

The project is now international and has made links with primary schools across Europe to teach compassion and empathy to children, as well as teaching the importance of helping the elderly.

Edward added: “I am fortunate that I get to spend every day doing something I love; helping people and putting others first is as natural to me as breathing.

“I think this is mainly due to how my parents raised me, they are both incredibly loving and compassionate people.

“Over the past two years there have been amazing, selfless individuals across the county whose work has been vitally important to their communities and neighbours.

“I hope in some way, the honour can be shared with them all. I took them all with me in my thoughts to Westminster Abbey.”