The Countess in Cumbria: Agricultural AGM, Mencap visit & music centre opening for Sophie

The Countess of Wessex was in Cumbria today to carry out a trio of engagements: Sophie attended an AGM, visited the Mencap Carlisle and opened Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Centre.

The Countess’ first engagement was in Milnthorpe, where she attended the Annual General Meeting of the Westmorland County Agricultural Society; here, she was unanimously voted in as the Society’s President for 2018. Sophie is a keen supporter of agriculture and previously attended the Society’s county show back in 2013 as its first VIP guest. The Westmorland County Agricultural Society was founded in 1799 and its county show is considered to be amongst the best in the UK.

The Countess of Wessex was voted in as President of the Westmorland County Agricultural Society (Royal Family)

The Society’s Chief Executive said of the royal appointment: “As part of her role as President, the Countess of Wessex will be attending this year’s County Show which will take place on Thursday 13 September 2018  An already popular event will be made even more special this year with a royal visitor.”

Prince Edward’s wife then visited Carlisle Mencap. Although not officially part of the national charity (of which Sophie is patron), Mencap Carlisle does work closely with them on many projects.  The local charity was created in 1968 by parents of children with learning disabilities; this year, the charity is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Sophie’s third engagement was in Penrith, where she officially opened the Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Centre. Annie Mawson is a harpist and singer who was born in Cumbria; she established Sunbeams Music Trust in 1992, which helps people with special needs to improve their wellbeing through the power of music. Last year, the Trust celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Sophie meets performers at the Sunbeams Music Centre in Penrith (Royal Family)

Sunbeams opened in 2016 and today, The Countess of Wessex was in attendance for its official opening. The building cost £2 million to build and has various facilities, including a recording studio, therapy rooms and a performance hall which can hold up to 120 people.

Although music therapy is still not particularly well-known, it is thought to be successful in improving communication skills for those who have limited language abilities. Annie is now developing her work even further, offering music-based therapy for the elderly, in addition to those with disabilities.

The Countess met some of the children who attend music therapy at the Sunbeams Music Centre (Royal Family)

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