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Tea with The Queen

Sikeli Qounadovu
Thursday, March 01, 2018

NOT everyone gets to the meet Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. And most definitely not everyone gets an invitation to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by The Queen herself.

When Ana Lavekau decided to pursue her passion in showcasing Pacific culture, art, music, fashion, dance and pottery in the United Kingdom she had no one but herself.

This meant a lot of sacrifices as she had to juggle work, motherhood and trying to succeed in something she had grown up loving.

A corporal in the British Army and originally from Mokani Village in Tailevu, Ana grew up watching her Pu Makereta and Bu Wati doing what they did best, traditional Fijian handicraft and art.

Twelve years later and on a chilly February afternoon she returns from work from Reece, Scotland to find an invitation card from the Master of the Household who was commanded by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to invite "Corporal Ana Lavekau to a reception at Buckingham Palace to be given by The Queen".

The adrenaline rush and excitement of meeting the monarch and head of the Commonwealth was just the stuff of dreams.

On February 14 this year the mother of two travelled to the royal palace in full traditional attire to meet Her Majesty.

"I have always worked independently over the years promoting Fijian meke with my dance group Mekeart Tribe.

"It was an amazing experience after 12 years and I get recognition for my work, meaning it had taken 12 years of all my hard work in promoting Fijian art, dance, pottery and Pacific fashion to finally get recognition by Her Makesty.

"My contribution as a foreign Commonwealth in the UK, I came back from only to find the invitation from HRH in my in-tray.

"It is a personal achievement to finally get recognition for my hard work in the UK."

But that is not the end for Cpl Lavekau, she still has plans to further expand her passion.

"The icing on the cake was when I met Prince Charles and I asked the prince to help me with my new project of building a Fijian bure as a cultural hub of learning for Fijian children in the UK

"He was intrigued and wanted to know more about it so fingers crossed they give me piece of land to build the first permanent bure structure in the UK."

She added she would not have done anything without the endless of support of her family.

"The support from my family back home was what kept me going.

"The continuous encouragement from my mother Koini Raiviviu, sister Taraivini Wati, sister-in-law Roslyn Premont and brothers Rusiate Lali, Joe Vimataki, Alex and Saula.

"My grandmothers are my inspiration, I could feel the presence of my two grandmothers by my side. May their souls rest in peace Bu Wati and Pu Makereta," said the former St Joseph's Secondary School student.

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