Countess of Wessex officially opens the ‘House of Wessex’ & sees children’s physio

On Wednesday, The Countess of Wessex had a busy in Oxfordshire, where she carried out three engagements. On her first stop, Sophie visited the Sylva Foundation, where she officially opened the newly restored “House of Wessex”. The building will be used as an educational facility and is a recreation of an Anglo-Saxon building.

The Countess of Wessex officially opened Wessex House (Royal Family)

During the visit, the Countess toured the “Teaching Barn”, where she spoke with Andrew and Daisy, furniture design makers of wooden furniture and small crafts, who are supported by the charity.

The environmental organisation helps to care for 90,000 hectares across the United Kingdom, supporting British trees and woodlands.

Sophie tours the workshop (Royal Family)

Dr Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation, said: “This reconstruction celebrates the birth of the kingdom of Wessex thirteen hundred years ago on this very spot.”

“Not only is The Countess of Wessex able to lend her title to the occasion, but knowing of her interest in the countryside, it’s been a privilege to introduce her to the charity’s work today.”

The Royal even had a go at planing some wood!

The Countess of Wessex planes some wood at the Sylva Foundation (Royal Family)

There was a brief stop after this engagement at Earth Trust, where the Royal had lunch.

Sophie also learnt more about how the trust is tackling local environmental challenges, and barriers to people benefiting from a healthy environment.

Earth Trust champions accessible green spaces, both directly and on behalf of communities; they take care of 500 hectares of farmland, woodland and wetland, including the iconic Wittenham Clumps and their Iron Age hillfort, a scheduled ancient monument.

Following the engagement, Sophie met young children receiving specialist physiotherapy treatment at Footsteps Foundation, while visiting the charity.

On the floor, the Countess played with three-year-old Matthew, who was pushing toy cars down a slope, with Sophie catching them and returning the toys to him.

“She’s so lovely and she made us all feel at ease,” Matthew’s dad David said of their guest. “It was just so normal and she was just playing with him like any child, which is what you want… For someone of such importance to recognise what good this place does is great. I think it’s great for everybody to see it.”

Speaking with the Countess, 14-year-old Melissa told the royal visitor about her weekly sessions to help her movement after a spinal injury.

Footsteps Foundation organisation supports children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders, counting on eight physiotherapists to provide treatment across a range of equipment. One of the tools used is a special ‘spider’ that helps children improve strength and movement, being supported standing up, but playing games and completing tasks.

The Countess of Wessex views the use of the Spider at Footsteps Foundation (Royal Family)

To end her day, The Countess of Wessex also visited IntoUniversity to learn about the academic support on offer to young students. The University is developing a great project to increase the number of students from disadvantaged background into the institution.

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