Royal couple grace Suffolk

VIDEO The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have been given a warm welcome to Suffolk as the royal couple enjoy a three-stop visit to the county.

THE Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have been given a warm welcome to Suffolk as the Royal couple enjoy a three-stop visit to the county.

At their first port of call in Southwold the pair enjoyed a taste of local food, drink and art.

They spent more than an hour in the town after arriving by helicopter and were greeted by hundreds of locals and visitors who had lined the streets around the market place.

They visited the Serena Hall gallery in Queen Street, which is owned by local artist Serena Hall who was helped as a teenager by the Prince's Trust.

The couple were presented with one of Miss Hall's colourful seaside paintings and the Duchess of Cornwall - who wore a cream paisley print dress with cream shows and handbag - also bought a large ceramic dish decorated with the gallery's signature I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside design.

As keen promoters of local produce and rural life, the couple spoke to stallholders at the town's market and were given a selection of local pickles and meats from Hutson's butchers.

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They were then shown around the new environmentally-friendly Adnams brewery, which opened earlier this year.

As well as learning about the brewing process, the Duchess was given the chance to start a new brew for herself before trying some of the new 'carbon neutral' East Green beer outside with her husband.

Mayor of Southwold Teresa Baggott said: “The Prince was very interested in what we have got in town. He liked the market and was very impressed with the shops and stalls. It's a fabulous day for the town, it's a real honour.”

The couple moved on to Blythburgh, where they spent about 40 minutes visiting the tiny village's pub the White Hart Inn.

As in Southwold, they were given a warm welcome by the landlord Michael Davis and villagers who had gathered in the pub's beer garden to catch a glimpse of the royals.

The White Hart Inn is part of a unique rural venture called the Pub is the Hub. As well as being the place where villagers can sup a pint of Adnams, Mr Davis has set up a village shop and post office in the pub's old coal barn.

The Pub is the Hub was initiated by The Prince of Wales through Business in the Community, one of his charities, in response to the closure of many British country pubs and other rural services.

Mr Davis, who has been the landlord since 1999, decided to set up the shop and post office in 2001 after the closure of Blythburgh's only shop.

“By running the shop along side the pub it has become a viable business, with each supporting the other,” said Mr Davis. “As well as providing a vital service, it has become somewhere for our more elderly residents to meet and chat.”

The royal couple also met with members of the Lowestoft and Waveney Samaritans - The Prince of Wales has been patron of the Samaritans since 1999.

Geoffrey Munn, patron of Lowestoft Samaritans, said: “It is wonderful for Lowestoft Samaritans to get this kind of coverage as we always need more volunteers both taking the calls and working to raise funds for the charity.”

Gordon Mitchell, 86, has been a Samaritan volunteer for more than 38 years. He said: “It is very important that people know what we are about and this type of visit helps to get that message across.”

This afternoon the Prince and Duchess ventured onto Snape Maltings where they were greeted at the front of a large crowd by the site owner's daughters. Dressed in pink dresses, the girls aged eight, six and four, presented Camilla with a posy.

The Royal couple then met local dignitaries before moving onto a special farmer's market where they took their time speaking to stall owners and tasted their locally sourced produce.

In the backdrop of the River Alde was Snape Malting's resident barge, Cygnet, which got a royal wave from Charles and Camilla as it sailed up and down the estuary.

After the market Camilla went for a private lunch before being shown round the site shop while Charles was given a tour around the Matlings redevelopment project, where he discussed architectural aspects of the project with its managers.

The Prince of Wales then rejoined his wife and the pair ventured into the world renowned Aldeburgh Music Concert Hall where they watched a rehearsal performance from promising 16-year-old percussionist Lucy Landymore.

The Royal Couple then said their goodbyes before flying off in their private helicopter.

Jonathan Reekie, Chief Executive of Aldeburgh Music, said: “We are absolutely delighted The Prince of Wales has come to see the building progress of our creative campus, which will turn into reality what was always Britten and Pears' original vision for the site - to create a place of energy and inspiration for music and the arts.”

Jean Waters, from South Africa but who is temporarily residing in Holbrook, was one of the hundreds to turn out for the memorable visit.

She said: “I asked Prince Charles to give me the honour of shaking my hand and he did. I text my daughter in South Africa straight away. I was very excited and it is so beautiful here.

“I saw Charles when he was nine years old coming out of the Palace when I was on a school trip and I never thought I would be privileged enough to see him again, let alone shake his hand.”

Alesha Gooderham, who owns the Snape Maltings complex with her husband Johnny, said the day had been a great success.

“He (Prince Charles) said Snape Maltings has got all the things he loves, the buildings, the food, the landscape and the music. It has been a fabulous day.”

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