We saw a Dancing Queen – or Duchess – today, as Camilla carried out engagements in Banbury, a historic market town in Oxfordshire, and showed off her moves on the dance floor. Upon her arrival, the Duchess was councillor John Colegrave, the Mayor of Banbury.
Starting the day, Camilla, who is president of Royal Voluntary Service, visited their unity at Cornhill Centre to learn more about the charity’s work to provide support for elderly people.
During the visit, the Royal joined volunteers at the International Dance Club, where she danced Zemer Atik, an Israeli circle dance, with members of the class and teachers Avis Gallager and Joan Sprittlehouse.
Camilla giggled as she walked around, clapping and stepping in time.
💃🏼The Duchess got into the swing of things as she took part in a Traditional Israeli folk dance and later watched as elderly members practiced ‘The Blackpool Bell’, a line dancing number. pic.twitter.com/VzHuHIKzOz
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) January 29, 2020
The Duchess of Cornwall also met the centre’s staff and volunteer groups, including Amelia and Bobby, the youngest volunteers being 7 and 5 years old respectively. The children have been volunteering at the centre for two years with their mother, Stephanie Gourley.
“By spending time with older people and facilitating activities, they have learned a different way of interacting with people and that not everything revolves around children!” said Mrs Gourley.
Adding: “They have learned patience, listening skills, grown in confidence and formed strong cross-generational bonds. It’s such a different environment to what the children are used to when we attend the normal children-only groups.”
About the organisation’s work, Catherine Johnstone CBE, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, said: “Our Cornhill Centre is always a hive of activity and it was fantastic to be able to show our president, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, just why it’s so popular with the local community. Staying active and maintaining social connections are vital to ageing well.”
Adding: “Our centre provides a vast array of options for older people to come together to have a chat and take part in an activity of interest to and connect with others at the same time as maintaining or improving their own fitness.”
On her way out, the Duchess passed through an adjacent garden that will be used in the Banbury Age Friendly Town (BAFT) Project Garden. There, Camilla was gifted with an Age Friendly brooch.
Bee Myson, the project coordinator, said: “We are very grateful that today’s visit by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will shine a light on Banbury in its bid to become an age-friendly town, and in presenting the Duchess with the newly commissioned Age Friendly Banbury badge it will result in a greater awareness of the initiative and help bring us closer to our objective of making Banbury a great place to grow older.”
Prince Charles’ wife then visited Second Time Around, a charity furniture restoration project that recycles unwanted or donated wooden furniture. The organisation provides training, social inclusion, independence and work opportunities for adults with learning disabilities.
During the visit, the Duchess met stall holders and learned about the training and volunteering opportunities offered by the charity.
Graeme Frazer, a stall holder, said after meeting Camilla: “I’ve had a stall here for just over a year. I got into upcycling when I burnt out in engineering. The Duchess asked me what I did and thought it was great how I got into it. I talked to the Duchess about how Nathan had given me my first opportunity and how it was the starting point to turn my life around.”
Adding: “What Nathan does here is fantastic and the addition of the cafe as well makes it a great place for people of Banbury to come.”
The Duchess of Cornwall also tried her hand at sanding wood, as David Wallington gave her a demonstration of upcycling, sanding a table’s leg.
The Duchess playfully said: “This could be my new career!”
At the end of the visit, Camilla had a sit down talk with the charity’s trustees over tea, coffee, sweet and savoury treats. The Duchess was also presented with two knitted tea cosies by Wendy Conlan, the owner of CuriosiTea’s coffee and tea room.