A SPECIAL guest was given the royal treatment when she visited an award-winning charity.
There was plenty of excitement when the Duchess of Gloucester arrived at the Aldingbourne Trust’s Country Centre in Norton, near Fontwell, last Wednesday.
Formerly Birgitte Eva van Deurs Henriksen, the duchess married the Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s cousin, in 1972.
Sue Livett, the trust’s managing director, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Duchess of Gloucester to the country centre. The duchess brought the sunshine with her.
“Her royal highness was particularly interested in meeting and talking to the people the Aldingbourne Trust supports, and was able to learn about our approach to social enterprise by visiting our open farm (making a special visit to see the pigs), wood products, furniture restoration, bothy, horticulture and café areas.
“Everyone was keen to say hello and the duchess’ warmth and natural ease made this a delightful afternoon.
“We were pleased to present the duchess with some of our funky harvest home-made chutney and reveal some of the giant pencils which are being worked on by people with learning disabilities as our enchanted garden project takes shape.”
Farming instructor Terry Cox was especially pleased when the duchess revealed the trust’s kunekune pigs, know better as Horace and Sampson, were her favourites.
“She was quite taken with the pigs. She said they were her favourite breed. She was lovely. It was nice to give her a bit of an idea of some of the things we do here.”
She also got to see the centre’s alpacas, and Sampson the turkey was determined to a close look at the special guest, too.
The duchess then moved on to the centre’s wood recycling and furniture restoration projects, where she again met many of the trust’s members, and was able to see the work they do.
Member Jason Attenborough said: “It was exciting. She was very nice. It was a bit different. I love coming to the trust. I work in the cafe, too.”
There was much excitement in the furniture restoration workshop when her royal highness dropped by.
“It was good of the duchess to come and observe what we do. There was a lot of excitement before she arrived and she spent time talking to the members and asking them questions,” said instructor Jim Thomson.
Tasty treats baked by members greeted the duchess when she popped into the cafe. She even bought some to take home with her.
The duchess took some extra time to look at some of the plants grown at the centre, before she was waved off.
The duchess also visited The Witterings Medical Centre to formally open the new Woodger Wing.
The £1.4m wing has ten consulting rooms, two treatment rooms, a minor operation suite, a remodelled waiting area, reception and administration area.