Earl of Wessex’s day of Windsor engagements: local paper and Prince Philip Trust Fund

The Earl of Wessex had a day of engagements close to his family home of Bagshot Park, near Windsor, on Thursday.

Prince Edward’s first visit was to The Advertiser, a newspaper local to the Windsor area, to celebrate a key milestone in the newspaper’s history. The Earl greeted staff in Bell Street as part of the Maidenhead Advertiser’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

The paper turned 150 in July this year and The Queen’s youngest son was given an insight into the work that goes into producing it every week, ever since the first edition in 1869. He also learnt about the Advertiser’s owner – Louis Baylis  and his eponymous trust.

The Louis Baylis Trust has distributed more than £6 million worth of profits to fund good causes in the local community since 1952.

At the engagement, the Prince was presented with gifts. One, the first ever edition of sister paper the Windsor and Eton Express, dated 1812. The other,  a photograph of his wife Sophie, The Countess of Wessex, and daughter Lady Louise Windsor. The picture had been taken by photographer, Ian Longthorne, at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May where the Wessexes are often found accompanying The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

Upon receiving his gifts, Prince added that it was ‘exceptionally kind’. He joked it is ‘always good to have an up-to-date copy of the newspaper’.

Prince Edward met four charities in the area at the event: Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service, The Link Foundation, Maidenhead and District Stroke Club, and Alzheimers Dementia Support. Each one set out the vital work they carry out in the community.

The visit was led by the Baylis Media chairman Jason Baylis who showed the Earl the paper’s digital archive, which allows people to delve into the pages of history, some going back more than 200 years.

The Baylis Media Ltd ePaper and Archive is an online portal which holds printed editions of the Advertiser from 1870, the Windsor Express from 1812 and the Slough Express from 1950.

Prince Edward  also met members of the advertising and editorial department, production, sub-editors and reporters in the publication’s newsroom.

He went on to unveil a plaque and cut a cake from the Handmade Cake Company to mark the occasion.

“The important thing about local newspapers is that they are much closer to their readers and their communities so you have to get it right,” the Prince said. “If you get it wrong, they let you know big time, so you do have to be that much more responsible.

“The local newspaper network is really important for the service it provides to the communities and holding everybody to account as well.

“Good luck with the newspaper.”

Baylis Media CEO Jeremy Spooner said: “It is a real pleasure to have you and all the other people to come here to our head offices to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Advertiser. If Louis Baylis was here now, looking back, he would be proud of what his paper has achieved.

“The residents trust what they read in the paper and that is the challenge going forward – to carry on being that voice.

“It is an honour to have you here and we thank you for coming along today.”

The Earl of Wessex then carried out his next engagement with a patronage he inherited from his father, Prince Philip, following his retirement. As Chairman of Trustees for The Prince Philip Trust Fund for the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, Edward attended a Trustees’ Meeting and Dinner at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor’s Great Park.

The aim of The Prince Philip Trust Fund is to make a tangible difference to the quality of life of people from communities across the extensive area covered by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Since being established as a grant-giving trust in 1977, they have supported over 1600 causes and distributed almost £2 million in grants.

The Prince Philip Trust Fund trustees only prioritise applications requesting support for one-off project funding, and which show some sustainability or fundraising success. The Trustees often provide matched funding for projects.

Following the engagement, the Trust tweeted: “Thank you to @clvenue for hosting our Board of Trustees meeting this evening where, amongst other things, we get to evaluate the latest funding applications from some of the amazing charities and good causes in the Royal Borough.”

The Prince Philip Trust Fund was an initiative set up by the first Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, the late Sir Christopher Aston. He founded the grant-giving trust in 1977 to thank The Duke of Edinburgh for his service to the community during the first 25 years of The Queen’s reign. Since then, it has supported over 1600 causes and distributed almost £2 million in grants.

They are particularly keen on targeting issues involving: the development of children and young people, those in social need, sport and disability, physical and mental health, the elderly and the arts.

All of these underscore not only the Earl’s, but also the Countess’, charitable interests.

It is possible that we will see more of Edward and Sophie following on from the Palace’s announcement this week that the Duke of York will no longer carry out public duties for “the foreseeable future”.

The Queen is known to rely heavily on the Wessexes both privately and publicly, possibly aided by them living at Bagshot, just a few miles from Windsor, where she spends more than half of her week.

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