Princess Royal pays a flying visit
ROYALTY graced Suffolk yesterday, as HRH Princess Anne visited the county to cast her eye over a range of community schemes.After flying in by helicopter, the Princess Royal officially unveiled the new Suffolk Family Carers Information and Support Centre in Claydon.
ROYALTY graced Suffolk yesterday, as HRH Princess Anne visited the county to cast her eye over a range of community schemes.
After flying in by helicopter, the Princess Royal officially unveiled the new Suffolk Family Carers Information and Support Centre in Claydon.
The centre, set up by Suffolk Carers - part of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers - provides family carers with a range of services including confidential help, information, a place to meet other carers and complementary therapy such as massage and reflexology.
Princess Anne arrived at the centre, based in Claydon's Hill View Business Park, shortly after 12.30pm and met local dignitaries and the charity's managers including chief executive Jacqui Martin, chairman Warwick Elwood and Jane Bury, operations manger of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
Dressed in a three-quarter length turquoise coat, pale blue satin scarf, navy pleated skirt and knee length black boots, the princess looked a picture of elegance as she chatted to the welcome party.
After a leisurely stroll around the building, Princess Anne made her way inside a large meeting room where dozens of family carers, young and old, had gathered to greet the royal guest.
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One of those was Helen Jenkins, from Wherstead, who provides 24-hour home care for her 37-year-old severely handicapped son Simon.
“She (the Princess) was very interested. She asked me about Simon and how I coped and also asked me my nationality because I am Greek, and that made her smile,” she said.
“It was a great pleasure to me to meet all these people and especially the princess.”
The centre, partly funded by a lottery grant of almost £300,000, already supports more than 3,000 carers, including 500 young carers.
Unveiling a special plaque to commemorate the opening, Princess Anne commented on the “astonishing” progression the charity had made in Suffolk.
She said: “I am delighted to join you in this important moment in Suffolk Carers history and in a new part of your abilities to provide facilities and services to carers.
“Big rural counties have their own challenges and you have had to think very hard about how you can provide services for everybody wherever they are.
“I am sure this, your new home, will encourage you and give you the facilities to do just that.”
Jacqui Martin, chief executive of Suffolk Carers, said the Princess's attendance at the official opening meant a lot to the organisation and its staff.
“It's the culmination of all the work we have done so far and recognition of what we will be doing in the future,” she said.
“They are all family carers, all unpaid, and save Suffolk about £450million a year. If they were not undertaking that task everything would grind to a halt.”
After opening the new centre, the princess made her way to the Haysel House Housing Scheme in Coddenham, which provides accommodation for elderly people.
Then it was off to Grundisburgh, where the princess paid a visit to little Jasmine Brame, 5, as she opened a housing scheme.
The Princess Royal also met her elder sister Alicia and their parents Liz and Reuben Brame at the three-bedroom semi-detached home in the new affordable housing scheme in Ablitts Meadow.
The development will provide 24 homes, some for rent and some sold on a shared ownership arrangement for local people.
The properties will be owned and managed by the English Rural Housing Association and can never be lost to the open market.
Mrs Brame, who said it was “surreal” to host royalty, added: “This housing scheme means we can stay in the village otherwise we could not have afforded to buy anywhere else.''
Anne Bishop, the Rural Housing Trust's area programme manager, said: “The 24 homes at Ablitts Meadow are an asset for the people of Grundisburgh for many years to come.
“The project shows what can be achieved by local communities with some perseverance and expert advice.''
The Princess Royal unveiled a bench and was presented with a posy by six-year-old Hannah Cattermole, who lives in Ablitts Meadow.