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Royal Visit - July 2012

posted 30 Jul 2012, 03:26 by Andy Lakin-Hall   [ updated 25 Sep 2012, 03:37 ]
Jubilee Visit to Rotherfield St Martin by The Earl and Countess of Wessex

Jo Evans writes...

What a fantastic day we had in the village. Their Royal Highnesses arrived outside the Memorial Institute and immediately went to talk to people in the crowd who had gathered to welcome them. They then came in to RSM Centre to be presented firstly to civic guests as ours was the premier visit in their two day stay in East Sussex, then to Andy Miller, Chair of RSM and Jo, Founder and Charity Manager. 

The Royal guests spent some time talking to us about the work we do and then visited the Therapy Room where Lucy Jeal was giving a hand massage to Joyce Amos and Hilary White. One definitely got the impression that the Countess would have loved to have had her hands done if time had permitted! Then off to the coffee room where the ladies of the Knitting and Nattering Group were in full flow. Much fun and laughter was had as the Earl talked about having a knitted suit and the Countess commented on the amount of wool on the table. Margaret Brightmore then presented them with two blankets to keep them warm as they travelled around on their engagements. The Earl and Countess met volunteer, Kate Chessells and two young volunteers from Oakley School, Danny and Josh who conducted themselves brilliantly and were a real credit to their school and families. 

Leaving the Institute the Royal Party made its way down North St towards the Village Hall, stopping many times to talk to grownups, children and even dogs! It was so lovely to see pupils from the Primary School and Pre School Playgroup waving their flags and getting so excited. The Earl and Countess were brilliant with them all as were the police outriders who later on showed some of the children their motorbikes and equipment. 

Next into the Village Hall where members had been enjoying a sing- a- long with Sue Evans and Janet Smith. The Earl and Countess were introduced to RSM Patrons, The Bishop of Lewes and The Marquess of Abergavenny, Trustees, Bernard Sparrow, John Westwood and Robin Kennedy, the latter had been wonderful all morning providing parking for guests, Les Pike, Chairman of Parish Council, representing the village, Rev Nigel Mason, representing St Denys, and Cllr Bob Tidy, our County Councillor. Their Royal Highnesses then went into the hall and sat at individual tables talking to RSM members, committee and volunteers. Every table was visited and the couple were brilliant at putting people at their ease and being genuinely interested in each person they spoke to. They also met Sue and Janet, the musicians, the Countess being very taken by the hammer dulcimer that Sue was playing and having a go herself, and Deborah Tompsett, who had created the commemorative picture for the occasion. 

Andy Miller thanked the Earl and Countess for coming to Rotherfield St Martin on behalf of The Queen and sent our warmest greetings to her. He then spoke a little about the way the charity had grown in such a short time and the essential needs that were being met through the services and activities provided.
The Earl and Countess were then invited to unveil the commemorative picture and sign a special Visitors Book just for the occasion.
Prince Edward gave a short, often very amusing address including wishing Thelma Goulding a very happy birthday, much to her surprise. A beautiful basket of sweet peas and carnations was presented to The Countess by Julie Fenn, while Eddie Balcombe presented The Earl with a jar of Rotherfield honey which he was delighted with as we had ascertained earlier that he is very fond of honey.
Having stayed an extra 15 minutes the Royal party departed and went on to the new
Amex Stadium at Falmer leaving us with some wonderful memories and very happy hearts. 

Recently we received a lovely letter from Their Royal Highnesses’ Private Secretary saying how much they had enjoyed their visit and very much appreciated the warm welcome they had received in the village and at RSM Centre.

Thank you to everyone who supported us on the day. It really was a community event and one which I think we shall all remember for a long time.

Royal Visit Slideshow

More pictures on the Rotherfield Pre-School website.

The Courier newspaper wrote a lovely article about the visit, which can be read here.

We have a Royal Visit Photobook available to order online for £34.29 here

We have an album of selected photos available to order online through Photobox here.