Video: Countess of Wessex shows her support for good causes based in town during visits
PUBLISHED: 11:29 20 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:41 20 March 2014
A wonderful place with a wonderful atmosphere.
Those were the words of Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex following a tour of Headway Ipswich and East Suffolk today, where she saw first-hand the work done to help people with brain injuries.
After she arrived at the centre, based at Ransomes Europark, the countess was treated to a performance of the Wizard of Oz, which users of the service had been preparing for about three months.
Those involved in the show said they were extremely excited to perform in front of Sophie Wessex.
Marjorie Magnus, a client at the centre, played the part of the scarecrow.
She said: “It was lovely. She has a pleasant smile and you just felt at home with her really. We all felt a bit nervous before she came in but she makes you feel comfortable.”
Officials at the charity also showed the countess a number of activities that take place at the centre to help people who have suffered brain injuries during the tour.
This included cooking and art classes, where the countess took time out to speak with clients of the service to find out how it was helping them.
She also found out more about the Brainy Dogs project, which sees prisoners train rescue dogs to be companions for people with neurological condition.
After witnessing some of the activities the countess unveiled a plaque to mark the visit and she described the centre as “a wonderful place with a wonderful atmosphere.”
Following the visit, Helen Fairweather, CEO of Headway Ipswich and East Suffolk, said: “I think it was really good and I think she was really interested in the things that we do.
“She wanted to stop and talk to the clients and she showed real empathy for our clients and real understanding. She was very natural with all the clients.”
The countess also visited Genesis Orwell Mencap today to see the support and services available to people in south Suffolk with disabilities.
A drumming performance put on by some of the people supported by the organisation was just one of the events laid on for the countess during the tour, at the charity’s Wright Road building.
After the performance, the countess visited the art studio to view some of the work on display and the carpentry workshop, where she talked to staff about the award-winning garden furniture which had been produced on the site.
She then enjoyed a private lunch followed with Genesis chief executive Nino Serritiello, chair of trustees, Robert Downes and Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Lord Tollemache.
Mr Serritiello who escorted the Countess during the visit, said: “We are honoured the Countess chose to come to Genesis as part of her visit to Ipswich. It was hugely exciting for our clients and staff to meet the Countess and we hope the time at Genesis was as enjoyable for the royal party as it was for us.”
Mr Downes added: “Her affinity with people with learning disabilities was remarkable.”
When the countess left, she was presented with a posy by Genesis client Louise Bailie and an oak garden tray by client Robert Knock.
Louise said: “It was fantastic to be the one to give her the flowers. She was really kind, helpful and beautiful as well. “