Royal visitors in Suffolk

SUFFOLK welcomed two royal guests today when the Earl and Countess of Wessex visited the county.After landing by helicopter at Trinity Showground in Ipswich the pair separated to undertake engagements in Ipswich, Stowmarket and Kesgrave.

SUFFOLK welcomed two royal guests today when the Earl and Countess of Wessex visited the county.

After landing by helicopter at Trinity Showground in Ipswich the pair separated to undertake engagements in Ipswich, Stowmarket and Kesgrave.

The Earl, Edward Wessex visited St Elizabeth Hospice in Foxhall Road where he met the Mayor and Mayoress of Ipswich as well as hospice staff, patients and volunteers.

The Countess, Sophie Wessex, who is patron of the National Autistic Society (NAS) spent 45 minutes touring the Autism Suffolk Centre Tommy Flowers Drive, Kesgrave speaking to staff, volunteers and parents.


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Amanda Strawger is a parent of a child who benefits from the centre's work.

She said: “The Countess spoke to us about what the centre does. She was really supportive and lovely to talk to. She is very human and a fantastic patron of the NAS. She came up with a wonderful idea to take children out of class a few minutes before the lesson ends so they won't feel so closed in and frightened in the corridors. She is really interested in the children. She has their interests at heart.”

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Since opening early this year the Autism Suffolk Centre has gone from strength to strength with around six new families seeking support and advice every week.

The centre provides support for families who have children between the ages of five and 13 and who suffer with autism.

NAS Chairman Colin Barrow said the Countess chose to be patron of the charity because of her history in communications and because autism is essentially a communication problem. He added: “We are honoured to welcome the Countess to the Suffolk Autism Project. The services offered here are invaluable for families and carers who may feel isolated or neglected and the centre will not only offer support and advice but will also bring people together who share similar experiences.”

The couple were then expected to perform a joint engagement at Framlingham College where they were due to unveil a plaque in commemoration of their visit and open the school's Athlone Hall.

After a private lunch at Helmingham Hall, home of Suffolk Lord Lieutenant, Lord Tollemache, the couple were to visit Icanho, the Suffolk Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, in Chilton Way, Stowmarket.

Did you meet the Earl or Countess? What did you think of their visit? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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