A FIVE-YEAR-OLD had an unforgettable day at Buckingham Palace as one of a thousand lucky children who won an invitation to the Children's Party in the Palace.

Ella Oxley, who lives in Marlow and goes to Little Marlow Church of England School in School Lane, travelled to London on Sunday to enjoy a party that was hosted by the Queen as part of her official 80th birthday celebrations.

Children's literature and the magic of books were the themes of the party which saw the palace grounds transformed into a fantasy world of colour-ful characters.

Little Ella won her "golden ticket" thanks to her web-savvy grandmother Val Hewison who entered her granddaughter into the lottery-style draw on the CBeebies website as soon as she heard about the competition.

Only a thousand winners were picked out of the "hat" which was full to the brim with the names of millions of youngsters to go to the party. Each winner was allowed to bring a parent or guardian and a friend so Ella, who loves Peter Pan and books with animals in them, went with her mum Louise and her school friend Philippa Rolfe also five.

Mum Louise said: "Ella and I both had a truly magnificent day and one we will remember forever."

Mrs Oxley said she could not believe her daughter's luck when an envelope stamped with a royal seal arrived through her letterbox in February.

She said: "I knew the letter was from the Palace because it had the royal seal on it. I just could not believe it. It was like wow. She was very excited and was counting down the days. The odds of winning were more than a million to one. My mum entered Ella because it had been on the BBC news. The next thing we knew we had a letter from Buckingham Palace. Ella's classmates were really jealous."

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Bob the Builder, Wallace and Gromit, Dennis the Menace, Postman Pat and animals from The Wind in the Willows were just some of famous characters wandering around the grounds.

A Mad Hatter's Tea Party and a Flamingos' Croquet Lawn were on the Palace Terrace, while elsewhere in the grounds there was a Mr McGregor's Garden based on Beatrix Potter's Tale of Peter Rabbit and a Fairyland.

A show followed a hunt to find who stole the Queen's bag containing her speech which Her Majesty then gave to her audience of 3,000.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson were among a group of children's writers at the party.