The phone call that changed my life...

Written by Madeleine Buchner

In November 2016 I was sitting on the couch at the house of the family I was babysitting for. It was a Friday night and approximately 9pm. I was anxiously waiting to go home and get into bed after an exhausting week and suddenly my mobile starts ringing. It was a UK number calling. This was the phone call I had been waiting for. 

My hands were shaking when I answered the phone. I tried to sound super confident when saying hello. A lovely British voice on the end of the phone asked me how my day had been and tried to make small conversation. Finally she said "thank you for applying for the 2017 Queens Young Leaders Program. As you know we had a huge number of application and everyone was of a very high calibre...and we are very excited to have you join us on the program next year and meet you at the Residential in London in June." I was stunned. "What? Are you sure you have the right person?" "Yes very sure Madeleine." After laughing for what felt like a minute, and swearing (typical Aussie right here) I said thank you so much. "Just remember, you are not allowed to tell anyone until it is officially announced on 30th November as we are still calling people". 

I'm not going to lie, the first thing I did after I hung up that phone was squeal (and try not to wake the baby I had just spent hours getting to sleep) and then I called my Mum. "Mum are you sitting down?" "Yes, you're on loudspeaker with your grandparents here. What's going on?" 

Mum I’m going to meet the Queen in June!
— Me

Sufficient crying from my grandparents and parents and excitement later I hung up the phone and went back to watching Gossip Girl on Netflix on the couch by myself. I've got to say it is the most surreal thing in the world to receive news of the Queens Young Leaders Program and then be by yourself on the couch. It gave me time to realise how incredibly lucky I am, how proud I am of the hard work I have put in over the years and how excited I was for 2017. 

The next 10 days flew by and the Queens Young Leaders Program announcement came on 1st December in Australia, my 24th birthday. To say my birthday was overshadowed with radio interviews and congratulations rather than birthday celebrations would be telling the truth, however I didn't really mind. 

Flash forward a couple of months and I was in a taxi pulling up to Madingley Hall, the most beautiful building I have ever seen in Cambridge, UK. The Residential program went so fast and I am craving to go back again and experience everything all over. We met with incredible intellectuals, business owners, politicians, journalists and more. Visited the BBC, 10 Downing St, Marlborough House, Facebook and Instagram. The week culminated with our awards being presented by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Words cannot begin to explain the emotions flowing in the room, let alone in my head. To be honest, I felt completely out of place and out of my depth...but I kept telling myself that I had earned my place here and that was what I needed to hang onto. 

Awards were followed with dinner at Australia House where...wait for it...I was seated next to Prince Harry!!! Dreams were coming true all over the place and I managed to hold conversation with His Royal Hotness for the whole night. The media were waiting to talk to us as soon as dinner finished and when I listen back to the radio interviews or watch the TV recording I can feel the sheer excitement in my voice (I also sound like a bit of a 10 year old high on sugar but that's ok). 

I met the most amazing people as part of the Queens Young Leaders Program. I didn't know that people who were that inspirational, down to earth and incredible existed on this world but I found them! 

That phone call back in November 2016 changed my life. It changed the reputation and awareness of my organisation, of me as a Founder and CEO and of me personally. That phone call changed my life and I will be forever grateful of the opportunities that have been presented to me because of it. 


Want to contact Maddy?

Twitter: @madeleinephoebe
Instagram: @madeleinebuchner