Wisbech braves the cold and rain to see the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall
- Credit: HARRY RUTTER
The people of Wisbech waited in the cold this afternoon to give a right royal welcome to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
A few hundred people gathered around St Peter’s Church, the Crescent and Church Terrace to welcome the Royal couple as they arrived to spend time chatting to volunteers and in the case of the Duchess promoting the National Literacy Trust, of which she is patron.
The couple who arrived bang on time were quickly out of their car and ready to greet the waiting crowds among them was Jennifer Minns who managed to have a chat with both the Prince and the Duchess.
Afterwards she explained she had told the Prince she had first met him when he was a month old and staying at Sandringham.
The Prince also met volunteers from the Age UK charity shop on Market Place - he is the charity’s patron. Shop manager Sue Downer and her team: Daphne Bryant, Maisie MacDonald, Patricia Carter and Maureen Freear, were delighted to shake the Prince’s hand and welcome him to Wisbech.
The couple then met dignitaries including mayor Peter Human and chairman of Fenland Council Kay Mayor before moving on to meet crowds of flag waving school children.
The Prince headed for St Peter’s Church to spend time meeting representatives of around 20 organisations, charities and volunteer groups from across the area and hear about the work they do for the local community. He also met local bell ringers who sounded the church bells to mark the Royal occasion.
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Meanwhile the Duchess was welcomed into the Wisbech and District Museum where she met with pupils from Elm Road Primary School who were enjoying a literacy activity led by author Marcia Williams, based on her retelling of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
She spent time chatting with the youngsters who showed her work they had done based around the classic story before the Duchess, who was dressed in a marine blue coat, presented them with a literacy tool-kit, donated by KPMG containing a host of books, activities and resources geared to helping the children to develop a love of reading.
She told the children: “You have all done so well and obviously worked hard, you deserve a present.”
It was then the turn of the Duchess to receive a gift as Marcia presented her with copies of her book for the Royal couple’s grandchildren. The Duchess praised Marcia for not only writing the book but also illustrating it.
She was then shown the museum’s prized copy of the original manuscript of Dickens’ Great Expectations, by Richard Barnwell, Vice Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire.
Afterwards the Duchess moved on to meet with families with younger children from the Wisbech Child and Family Centre who were busy taking part in activities led by representatives from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge as part of the Talking Together in Cambridgeshire community literacy project, which helps develop children’s early communication and language skills.
She joined in with the singing activities which involved the waving of a blue cloth to create the illusion of waves and much to her obvious enjoyment had her arm tugged slightly by the over exuberant Albie Hughes, two, who got very carried away with the cloth waving.
His twin sister Lily-Rose then presented a gift of books and proceeded to try to help the Duchess open them by pulling the carefully tied ribbon around them.
Her Royal Highness then moved on to meet with individual supporters of the museum including ‘Refounders’ who have each pledged to pay £1,000 a year to help with the museum’s running costs over the next five years.
After unveiling a plaque to commemorate her visit the Duchess signed the visitors’ book before receiving a fascimile copy of the Great Expectations manuscript from Mr Barnwell who said: “It has been a very happy afternoon and we are delighted, and deeply grateful for your visit here today.”
The Duchess also said a few words saying she was happy to be in Wisbech, but wished she had a bit longer.
“We always seem to be chasing our tails,” she said, adding how impressed she had been by the children and their work and pointing out the importance of literacy.
She ended her visit by chatting to children from the Nene and Ramnoth Road School who gave a rendition of a poem based on the letters in the word Wisbech. They also presented her with a gift of more books.
It was then time for the Duchess, like all good grandmothers to look for souvenirs from her visit to take home for the grandchildren. She selected, and paid for a collection of fossils and rocks explaining the children enjoy collecting them
Finally nearly an hour later than scheduled the Royal couple were reunited ready to depart. But not before the Prince made a quick visit to the steps of Wisbech Castle where he met Steve Tierney and other volunteers who have been working to bring the building back to life as a community asset.
A quick wave and Royal motorcade sped off with shouts of ‘goodbye’ from the children of Nene and Ramnoth School who were lined up outside the museum.