Prince Charles celebrates North Wales enterprise and RAF skill

Prince Charles spent a busy day in the north of the principality as his week in Wales continued – with a brief interlude joining in with the Spanish State Visit and his wife’s birthday garden party.

The Prince of Wales’ first port of call was at Moneypenny, a telephone answering company in Wrexham whose unique amenities include a tree house meeting room, a pub and a sun terrace, little wonder they have dubbed themselves ‘the happiest workplace in the UK’.

Prince Charles visited the Moneypenny offices in Wrexham (Clarence House)

Arriving at the offices, the Prince was welcomed by Moneypenny staff and their children, many waving the Welsh and Union flags.

A number were fortunate enough to have a brief chat with the heir to the throne, including Kate Bancroft and Phoebe Marshall, from Ysgol Morgan Llwyd, Wrexham, who the Prince conversed with in Welsh; Charles studied Welsh at Aberystwyth university in the late 1960s, and is a supporter of keeping traditional languages alive.

Once inside the building, he was greeted by company founders Ed Reeves and Rachel Clacher and taken on a tour of the offices.

After visiting the tree house and the onsite pub, Prince Charles spoke to the team that handles calls for the Canal & River Trust charity, of which he is patron.

Team leader Ashleigh Hatton had the honour of Charles listening into one of her calls. She said: “I was a little bit nervous but he was lovely, he listened in to what I was doing and asked me about how the system worked. It was a unique day.”

Unveiling a plaque to commemorate his visit, The Prince of Wales, remarked it was fascinating to discover what they did and that it was ‘remarkable’ they were providing these services to so many organisations.

The Prince continued, “I greatly enjoyed meeting some of you and causing mammoth disruption as you were trying to take calls from clients. You will have to explain it was my fault.”

Moneypenny staff applauded the Prince as he left for his next engagement at yoghurt maker Village Dairy/Llaeth y Llan in Llannefydd, Conwy.

At the Llaeth y Llan dairy, owned by the Roberts family, Prince Charles sampled some of the yoghurts they produce. The family farm is run by Gareth and Falmai Roberts and has been making yoghurts since the 1980s.

Schoolchildren, from Ysgol Llannefydd enthusiastically performed Welsh songs for the royal visitor.

Gruffydd Roberts, a director at the dairy, said: “It’s such a big occasion for us and the community, that’s why we have the school here involved. This visit is all about enterprise and I think Llaeth y Llan is a great way to show what is achievable in a rural setting.”

Unveiling his second plaque of the day at the Roberts’ farmhouse Prince Charles said: “I do want to particularly congratulate the whole family on what they’ve achieved here in all these years. Because I can imagine just what a courageous decision it was to diversify and add value in this way.”

“Which is a very valuable thing to do. The fact that you have been able make such a success of it and to export to all sorts of parts of the world through an awful lot of effort on the marketing is a huge achievement and as somebody who greatly admires smaller family companies what you are doing here is of enormous significance in Wales.”

He added: “Nothing could give me greater pleasure than to see this operation and to taste it too. I can only hope and pray that this whole enterprise continues to grow and flourish and be something that adds huge value to what Wales can produce.”

The heir to the throne then moved on with a visit to RAF Valley, Anglesey, the base at which Prince William used to work as a search and rescue pilot. The Duke of Cambridge spent three years at RAF Valley, though his squadron was disbanded in 2016 when the operation was privatised.

The Prince of Wales hopped in a Hawk T2 aircraft at RAF Valley (Clarence House)

In an hour long visit, Charles – Honorary Air Commodore – met members of IV(R) Squadron and Ascent Flight Training who showed him the Hawk T2 jet trainer aircraft that is used to for fighter pilot training to the RAF and Royal Navy.

Station Commander Group Captain Nick Tucker-Lowe said: “I’m delighted that the RAF Valley whole force has had the opportunity to meet the Prince and show him the Hawk T2 advanced fighter pilot training capability.”

“With our industry partners, RAF Valley is delivering world-leading pilot training to meet our defence commitments at home and abroad. Our colleagues from the Defence Helicopter Training School and the RAF Mountain Rescue Service are also making a real difference in rotary training and saving lives.”

“I’m proud that the Prince was able to meet some of our families, who do so much to support the Station and its personnel.”

It was also Prince Charles’ job on the day to present a number of promotions and awards; a Royal Warrant, a Royal Canadian Air Force promotion to Major for an officer on an exchange instructor programme, and the annual Prince of Wales Trophy to the best new flying instructor on IV(R) Squadron.

Addressing station personnel and their families, the Prince said: “For me its such a pleasure having a chance to visit the station, however brief.”

“But having been Honorary Air Commodore for many years now, I do remember just how much difference you make here to the all important training of fast jet pilots and how dependant we are to you as a team.

“I’d like to congratulate you all on what you do and thank you for all your efforts.”

Prince Charles’ last function of the day was at Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens near Menai Bridge, where he took a tour, admiring the floral displays there, as well as the cottages.

The gardens form part of a restoration project to cottages there, which are now available as holiday lets. Charles unveiled another plaque here to mark the formal opening of the site.


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