Day of sunshine and smiles

A £14.7m project to regenerate Lowestoft was given the royal seal of approval today when the Princess Royal paid a high-profile visit to the town.

A £14.7m project to regenerate Lowestoft was given the royal seal of approval today when the Princess Royal paid a high-profile visit to the town.

Large crowds basked in the warm spring sunshine as the princess officially marked the end of the four-year Sunrise Scheme, which has dramatically transformed the town centre, seafront and south Lowestoft areas.

One of the highlights of the princess's day was her visit to the distinctive seafront fountains where she and hundreds of onlookers were treated to a two-minute musical fountain display.

A special role was given to nine-year-old Ellouise Moss, who presented a posy of flowers to the royal visitor at the fountains

Ellouise, daughter of Sunrise manager Paul Moss, said: “It was really nice because I've never met royalty before. When I found out I was really excited, but I was nervous I would mess it up.

“I very, very much enjoyed the day.”

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Mr Moss, who has overseen the project to improve the town's roads, infrastructure and environmental image, said: “We were very lucky with the weather and it's good to see all the crowds here celebrating the completion of the Sunrise scheme.

“The town will see the benefit of all the hard work and now it's time to start building for the future and getting people back into the area.”

The princess was greeted by a number of dignitaries, but also spent time talking to crowds of onlookers by the town's sun-baked seafront before officially naming the attraction the Royal Plain Fountains.

She also met Lowestoft couple Jack and Pauline Aguss, who were celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary and were delighted with their brush with royalty.

Mrs Aguss, 79, said: “It was very nice and the princess was very charming. I was very appre-hensive beforehand, but it was grand.

“The nearest we got to the princess before was when went up to the Edinburgh military tattoo and she walked past us.”

Mr Aguss, 80, used to work in the building industry, and the couple have two daughters, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Aside from witnessing the fountains at Royal Plain, the Princess Royal was taken into the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club to view an exhibition of past and present photographs of the Sunrise area and to meet assembled guests who have been involved in the scheme.

Before she left she received a gift of a presentational plaque from Sally Rivett and Helen Thrower, of Lowestoft Porcelain.

The princess began her visit to the town at the Aspire business centre, in the grounds of the Denes High School, in Yarmouth Road.

As well as officially opening the centre, she observed a business workshop session with a group of sixth-formers and members of starter businesses based there.

She said: “For all of those involved, I give my congratu-lations. It is an original concept to have a centre like this.

“For those of you coming to the end of school and looking at your career alternative, this might make the bridging process much easier.”

Earlier in the day, the princess, who is patron and honorary member of the Suffolk Horse Society, paid a visit to the Suffolk Punch stud farm at Hollesley, near Woodbridge, and to open the Aldeburgh Community Centre.