A charity in Chichester was ‘honoured’ to welcome royalty to its premises last week.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester visited the Aldingbourne Country Centre in Blackmill Lane on Friday to have a first-hand look at how it supports adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to live independent lives and learn new skills.
Arriving at the centre, which is run by the charity the Aldingbourne Trust, the Duke was received by John Shippam, deputy lieutenant of West Sussex and a trustee of the Aldingbourne Trust; Davina Irwin-Clark, the high sheriff of West Sussex; councillor Janet Duncton, chairman at West Sussex County Council and Frances Russell, chairman of the trustees.
Peter Stanley, general manager of the Aldingbourne Country Centre, welcomed His Royal Highness and gave him a tour of the newly-opened Quarry Building.
The Duke was shown how the new building has been specially designed to promote sustainability and reduce its future environmental impact.
After meeting some of the staff at the centre, the Duke was given an escorted tour of the outdoor facilities, including the sand and water play area and the new indoor soft play area.
Visiting the wood recycling enterprise and furniture restoration project, he was greeted by Brian Alden, the wood recycling enterprise lead, and took pleasure in meeting some of the people the trust supports.
To commemorate his visit to the centre, His Royal Highness planted an alder tree near the centre orchard.
The tree was grown from a seedling by one of the people the trust supports and, once it grows further, will eventually create a sheltered resting area for future visitors.
The Duke of Gloucester completed his visit to the centre by meeting some of the trustees, volunteers and people the trust supports over a light lunch in the Quarry conference room.
Mr Stanley said: “It was an honour to provide a guided tour of our facilities and introduce HRH The Duke of Gloucester to the people we support.
He appeared very interested in our charity and took the time to engage in conversation with staff and the people we support.”
Earlier the same day, the Duke of Gloucester visited Horsham for a special event commemorating 150 years of this newspaper’s sister title, the West Sussex County Times.
He toured an exhibition about the title’s history at the town’s museum, opposite the original home of the County Times.
His Royal Highness said: “It’s a great pleasure to come and visit this splendid museum.
“We’re so lucky in this country that we have so much history to learn about and to celebrate.”
The Duke said it was ‘easy to take everything for granted’ but insisted the paper plays an important role in holding authorities to account.
He added: “I’m delighted to play a tiny part in your history and wish you every luck and that you continue to keep notes of what is going on.
“Keep the MPs and the local authorities nervous.”
Editor and the editorial director of the West Sussex County Times Gary Shipton presented the Duke with a commemorative front page.
The Duke also visited the Sussex County Croquet Club in Southwick on Friday to officially open the 2019 Simon Carter Golf Croquet World Championship.