December 9 2013 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
The Duke of Edinburgh proved he was back in business after choosing Aylsham for his first official visit since an operation in June.
The lovingly-crafted patchwork presented to the Duke of Edinburgh represented the collective 2,399 years of experience of Green Lane View’s elderly residents.
Each had chosen a picture and a maxim to guide his great-grandson, Prince George, through life. The pictures had been printed on to cotton.
Sayings included “Keep your nose clean” - words of wisdom from “91-and-a-half” year old Arthur Whitwood who chose a Halifax bomber as his illustration. Mr Whitwood served in Bomber Command during the second world war.
“Always tell them you love them” was Barbara McCrae’s contribution. Mrs McCrae, 79, accompanied her words with a heart bearing the initials of George and his royal parents, William and Kate.
She presented the prince with the gift. “I told him it was special and represented the thoughts and feelings of everyone who lives here.
“He said: ‘I don’t think he’ll be able to read it just yet,’” she added.
Other sayings included: “Travel broadens the mind”, “Cherish your children”, “Listen to advice and take it” and “To thine own self be true”.
The 92-year-old spent some 45 minutes at the town’s St Michael’s Care complex, meeting VIPs, staff and elderly residents - the majority of whom were younger than him.
Prince Philip walked tall and at a brisk pace, stopping often to talk and pass a quip or two with those gathered to meet him.
He watched Broadland Dance School performers wearing pink sequined tutus, plus knitters and artists at the Aylsham Care Trust (Act) Centre, where he signed an official photo of himself.
“We don’t get dancing girls every Tuesday” retired headteacher Peter Gee, 84, from Aylsham, called out to the duke as he entered the centre’s activities room. “Oh, you don’t eh?” the Royal visitor replied, laughing.
With a cheery “Happy Christmas” he then made his way to the Aylsham Health Centre where among the staff to greet him was Alice Hodges, 25, a children’s speech and language therapist who showed him a photo of himself in the 1950s meeting her great-grandfather Colin Baldry when he worked as a typesetter for The Times newspaper in London.
The duke finished his visit at the Green Lane View housing with care complex, dropping in on Clare Shaw, 86, in his flat.
“He was a very charming man. I was quite surprised at how affable he was. He had a look round the flat and asked if I was impressed with it - which I am. He looked very well I thought, said Mr Clare.”
Prince Philip also paused in Green Lane View’s communal lounge to watch residents throwing balls to each other during an exercise class. Having great fun in the middle of the floor was 22-month-old Ella, great-granddaughter of May Crisp, 93, who was catching and dodging the balls.
The prince joked: “Do you get bonus points if you hit her?”
Another resident, Barbara McCrae, 79, presented him with a patchwork picture for his new great-grandson, Prince George of Cambridge, put together by Green Lane View residents.
Cook Angela Lincoln and catering assistant Angela Ellis got a surprise when the prince unexpectedly visited them at their dining room servery on his way out of the building.
“He asked what was on the menu today and lifted one of the lids to look,” said Mrs Lincoln. The prince learned that yesterday’s dinner included pork casserole, crab salad and apple tart.
Before leaving in his Range Rover, the duke paused to talk to a crowd of Union Flag-waving residents of the neighbouring St Michael’s Court Care Home who had lined up outside in their wheelchairs to see him. The home specialises in caring for people with dementia.
Among its residents is Elizabeth Duffield who will celebrate her 102nd birthday next week.
“She’s been a great Royal watcher all her life - collecting photos and newspaper cuttings. She remembers seeing Prince Philip many years ago when he came to open the south pier at Lowestoft,” said her son, retired clergyman Rev Canon Patrick Foreman, from Fakenham.
The royal visit was a red letter day for Rees Coghlan, founder of Act, whose vision 28 years ago led to the complex, built on the site of the former St Michael’s Hospital.
“I feel very emotional, after working in a very humble, mundane way for so many years, to see the Duke of Edinburgh coming here to see the result,” said Mr Coghlan, 87.
“My idea was to provide comprehensive care, through partnership, in one place: social care such as activities and companionship; health care - doctors and clinics; supported care to help people live independently as they get older; and a nursing home for those that need more help,” added Mr Coghlan whose family donated land which ensured the necessary access for the scheme.
“I think the duke really took on the idea and thought it was good. I just hope other towns will now hear about it and do something similar.”
The duke also chose Norfolk for his first informal visit since recovering from abdominal surgery, spending time last week at the Dersingham Bog nature reserve.