Queen graces Suffolk on charity visit

A LEADING veterinary charity had a right royal day today with a visit from the Queen.

A LEADING veterinary charity had a right royal day today with a visit from the Queen.

She was given a tour of the Animal Health Trust, near Newmarket, to mark 50 years as the charity's patron after arriving at the Kentford site by helicopter.

During her visit, the royal guest met staff, supporters and a number of local dignitaries including David Burnip, chief executive of Forest Heath District Council, and Joanna Spicer, chairman of Suffolk County Council, before getting a sneak preview of the charity's revamped visitor's centre.

The facility, which is set to be unveiled by the Princess Royal on November 10, includes a lecture theatre and Kennel Club interactive exhibition.

Wearing a long red coat and matching hat, the Queen was given a presentation of the trust's plans to expand its small animal centre by building a state-of-the-art cancer centre to enable experts to treat more horses, dogs and cats suffering from the disease.

The new centre will be able to offer all three treatment options for cancer - surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy - on one site.

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The Queen also talked to members of the research team for a report on their development of new diagnostic tests and vaccines to combat strangles, a potentially fatal disease affecting horses, as well as several geneticists about the charity's genetic work on Fell ponies and Suffolk Punch horses.

Dr Carl Robinson, senior scientist leading the strangles project, said: “She was very interested in our work, was very on the ball and asked a lot of questions.”

Before leaving, the royal visitor planted a crab apple tree in memory of the AHT's founder Reg Wooldridge and received flowers from several observers, including four and a half year old twins Alexandra and Xenia Marshall and their brother Nicholas, the children of a charity employee.

Dr Peter Webbon, the charity's chief executive, said: “We hope Her Majesty was impressed with the progress we have made in the 50 years since she became our patron.

“It was great to obviously have the opportunity to update her on several of our areas of work which are so obviously of great interest to her.”

He added: “It was fantastic to be able to update The Queen with our plans for the cancer centre.

“To build and fully equip the centre we need to raise �4.5 million. Knowing that the Queen is supportive of our plans should hopefully help us reach this target.”

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