Princess Royal pays visit to Suffolk

SCORES of people gathered in Suffolk's mother church last night for an evening of orchestral sounds and poetry witnessed by the Princess Royal.An audience of more than 1,200 people joined the Princess for the Words and Music event, which was organised as part of St Edmundsbury Cathedral's celebration for the imminent completion of the long-awaited Millennium Tower.

SCORES of people gathered in Suffolk's mother church last night for an evening of orchestral sounds and poetry witnessed by the Princess Royal.

An audience of more than 1,200 people joined the Princess for the Words and Music event, which was organised as part of St Edmundsbury Cathedral's celebration for the imminent completion of the long-awaited Millennium Tower.

After meeting local dignitaries at a formal reception, Her Royal Highness made her way to the cathedral where the concert was opened with a welcome by the Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, the Very Revd James Atwell, before the Suffolk Youth Orchestra gave a moving rendition of the Fanfare of Lady Mirium, conducted by Philip Shaw.

Guest of honour Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, helped mark the occasion with readings of his own work.

Mr Motion, whose list of accolades includes the Whitbread Prize for Biography for his work on Philip Larkin, was appointed Poet Laureate in 1999.

During last night's event he reminisced about his childhood, and moved the audience with poems and prose about his mother, father and fishing holidays in Ireland.

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“It is a deep pleasure to be here tonight,” he said. “This event combines youth and age and it is great to be associated with it in this way.”

The winners of two poetry competitions, run in conjunction with the East Anglian Daily Times and the County's School' English Advisor, then took centre stage to recite their own poems, before being presented with a special certificate and a framed copy of their work by the Princess.

The audience, which included Sir John Molbray, chairman of the Organising Committee, the High Sheriff, and the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, then enjoyed a final rendition from the orchestra with the concert closing on the National Anthem.

The evening is expected to have raised more than £30,000 for Suffolk hospices - the East Anglian Children's Hospices, St Elizabeth's Hospice, Waveny Hospice Care and St Nicholas Hospice in Bury.

Now in its sixth year of building, the north transept, two phases of tower work, and a new crypt and chapel above are all coming into completion.

The cathedral's Precentor, Canon Michael Hampel, said: “It is an excellent start to our year-long programme of events and activities to mark the completion of the tower that we hear poetry inspired by this place, and give something back to the local community through our hospices.”

Max Milburn, vice-chairman of the Organising Committee, said: “People have been very generous in planning for this event and it has been a great success, in terms of both the actual concert and the money raised for the hospices.”

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