It was something of a family affair for Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall yesterday, joined by her sister and brother-in-law, great-niece and granddaughter to open the new village hall on Draper Memorial Field in Stourpaine.
Bruce Shand, Camilla’s father, spent many years in Stourpaine until his death in 2006.
Dressed more casually in a tweet jacket, green skirt and brown boots, The Duchess walked down to the new hall from her sister’s home, just down the road. Annabel’s husband, Simon Elliot, and the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset accompanied Camilla to the engagement.
The opening of the village hall was the culmination on six years’ work, completed in conjunction with Raglan Housing Association and Holy Trinity Church.
Local dignitaries had gathered to greet the Duchess, including chair of Stourpaine Village Hall Keith Yarwood, chair of Stourpaine Playing Fields Association Fran Bromley, the chief executive Tracy Melling of Dorset Community Foundation, an organisation which provided funding for the village hall.
Camilla spent time chatting to those who regularly use the new hall, as well as contractors who helped build the facility. 101-year-old Jocelyn Russell had a conversation with the Duchess; she ran the lunch club in the old village hall for 36 years, until her retirement in 2008 – aged 94! Trees marked the volunteer’s 100th birthday.
Next, it was into the kitchen. Here, Camilla though she was given a cup of tea as opposed to being asked for help,
The Duchess was assisted by her sister’s grandson Otis and her own granddaughter Lola in unveiling a plaque to commemorate the opening.
She said it was a great honour to be invited to open the hall in the village where her sister lives and her father had spent many happy years living until his death nine years ago.
A short walkabout followed, Camilla greeting the crowds that had gathered outside to meet her, even taking a selfie with one young well-wisher. Camilla is a regular visitor with a strong connection to the village: she and Prince Charles have been regular visitors. In 2011 the couple visited the White Horse, the local pub, for the opening of its post office and shop; this was part of the ‘Pub is the Hub’ scheme promoted by Business in the Community and The Prince of Wales.
In May 2014, the funeral of Mark Shand, the Duchess’ brother, took place at Holy Trinity Church in Stourpaine. Mark died after tripping and hitting his head on the pavement in New York.