Duke visits town's cultural centres

IPSWICH played host to a royal visitor today as part of a ceremony to officially open its latest public projects.

Russell Claydon

IPSWICH played host to a royal visitor yesterday as part of a ceremony to officially open its latest public projects.

His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester arrived in the town by train before opening the restored Christchurch Park, the St Lawrence Centre and the multi-million pound Garrett Anderson centre at Ipswich Hospital.

Escorted round the town by Lord Tollemache, the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, and other local dignitaries, the Duke also unveiled a recently acquired painting of Ipswich's waterfront by the Woodbridge-born 18th Century marine artist John Moore in Christchurch Mansion.

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It was the Duke's first visit to the town for 30 years, when he opened the Corn Exchange, and was praised by local leaders who said his visit would “put Ipswich on the map”.

The Duke also handed out a long service award to Christchurch Park's tireless worker Anthony Powell for his 40 years service on the upkeep of the park's grounds.

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Mr Powell, who has always lived in Ipswich, said: “It was a very proud moment for me. I shall pass the medal onto my granddaughters.”

Whilst at the park the Duke also officially opened the Reg Driver Visitor Centre as well as planting a tree to commemorate the end of a £4.5 million facelift for the park.

His Royal Highness was then given a tour of the new Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Centre at Ipswich Hospital and had a buffet lunch laid on for his visit to the St Lawrence Centre.

Councillor Judy Terry, Ipswich Borough Council's portfolio holder for Arts, Culture and Leisure, said: “We invited him here four or five months ago and had a very nice letter back from him.

“We are delighted to have him here as it helps put Ipswich on the map.

“We have done so much in the last few years and so much since his last visit here 30 years ago. He will see a massive difference around the waterfront.”

Liz Harsant, the Conservative leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said: “I am thrilled. It is so good for Ipswich to have a member of the royal family come here.

“Since we came into administration here the Conservative led council and Cllr Terry have done so much to improve culture in this town and this is a way of highlighting this wonderful Christchurch Mansion and St Lawrence Centre.”

James Hehir, the chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council, added it was really good to see the Duke coming to the town, which he said was blessed in arts and culture for him to look at.

The Duke concluded his visit with a tour around the town's waterfront

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