Banbury rolls out the red carpet for royal guest

Banbury welcomed a very special guest today as a senior member of the royal family took a whistlestop tour of two of the town’s charities.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 2:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 2:21 pm
The Duchess of Cornwall visited the Royal Voluntary Service at the Cornhill Centre, as part of a visit to Banbury. She also attended Second Time Around. Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds. NNL-200129-135217001

The Duchess of Cornwall, made her first stop at the Royal Voluntary Service’s Cornhill Centre where she met with staff and volunteers including the centre’s youngest volunteers, Amelia, 7 and Bobby 5.

HRH also met with volunteer teachers, Avis Gallager, 72 and Joan Sprittlehouse, 82, who lead an international dance class for the Duchess.

The Duchess is an avid supporter of helping the elderly. HRH works with age-friendly initiatives including Silverline, a helpline for elderly people to combat loneliness and also promotes keeping the older generation active.

HRH Duchess of Cornwall with users and trustees of Banbury's Second Time Around

She is also the president of the RVS.

As she left the Cornhill Centre HRH was shown the adjacent garden which will soon become the ‘Banbury as an Age Friendly Town’ (BAFT) Project Garden and accepted an Age Friendly brooch from Age Friendly coordinator Bee Myson.

Bee said: “We are very grateful that today’s visit by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will shine a light on Banbury in its bid to become an age-friendly town, and in presenting the Duchess with the newly commissioned Age Friendly Banbury badge it will result in a greater awareness of the initiative and help bring us closer to our objective of making Banbury a great place to grow older.”

The Duchess then made the short trip across town to visit Second Time Around on the Beaumont Road Industrial Estate.

The Duchess gets hands on with guidance from David Wallington

The charity provides skills training and work opportunities to adults with learning disabilities helping them to gain a level of independence.

The Duchess toured the eight shop units and met with stall holders, guided by project managers Nathan Wallis and John Corden.

John said: “Hopefully the Duchess’s visit will boost the number of visitors here, give us a little bit more coverage and get people to know what we do here and what we sell.”

Stall holder Graeme Frazer said after meeting the Duchess: “I’ve had a stall here for just over a year. I got into upcycling when I burnt out in engineering.

The Duchess of Cornwall heads to the Royal Voluntary Service at the Cornhill Centre with Banbury mayor Cllr John Colegrave

“The Duchess asked me what I did and thought it was great how I got into it. I talked to the Duchess about how Nathan had given me my first opportunity and how it was the starting point to turn my life around.

“What Nathan does here is fantastic and the addition of the cafe as well makes it a great place for people of Banbury to come.”

Many of the 30 users of the charity’s workshops and staff of the various stalls were in attendance. Wendy Conlan, owner of CuriosiTea’s coffee and tea room presented the Duchess with two knitted tea cosies.

David Wallington gave the Duchess a hands on demonstration of upcycling as he sanded a table leg, a task the Duchess eagerly participated in.

“This could be my new career,” HRH said.

The visit concluded with a sit down chat with the charity’s trustees over tea, coffee and a selection of sweet and savoury treats supplied by Wendy and her team.