Princess Royal flies in for Shropshire visit - with pictures and video

By Ian Harvey | Shrewsbury | News | Published: | Last Updated:

Sometimes there is simply no dignified way to make an entrance. The Princess Royal flew into a snowstorm when she visited Shropshire, forcing her to fight her umbrella during a wintry gust.

One advantage of the Arctic blast was that the wind came from the east.

Princess Anne told charity workers at Shrewsbury Town on Monday that the blustery tailwind had helped her helicopter catch up time.

Princess Anne in Shrewsbury

The Princess Royal attended a charity conference in Shrewsbury before travelling to AI Stallion Services in Whitchurch.

The Princess was in Shropshire to find out about the work being done to help ex-servicemen and women who find themselves in trouble with the law.

Princess Anne, who is a patron of Youth Support Services, attended a conference in Shrewsbury to review the Warwickshire and West Mercia Armed Forces Covenant and criminal justice system and the Remember Veterans project.

Much of the work helps former members of the military who struggle in civilian life.

Among those she met was Mark ‘Sherry’ Sheriden, who has been helped by Youth Support Services. He was jailed for six-and-a-half years after an armed stand-off with police in Ellesmere in 2011, but inside he turned his life around and raised more than £10,000 for military charities.


The 55-year-old said: “I’ve been working with YSS since August last year. It is good for one-to-one support. The charity was absolutely brilliant – I would recommend it without a doubt.”

Mr Sheriden, who served as a soldier between 1979 and 1986, said he is now setting up a veterans’ association in Ellesmere. He talked with the princess for 10 minutes.

“She was quite impressed with what I’m starting,” he added. “She asked me where I served in the Army and I said Germany, Northern Ireland and the Falklands.”

Mr Campion said he was impressed with the princess’s knowledge about the scheme.


He added: “We’ve supported the project from the beginning, but we need to make the scheme business as usual and get it embedded to ask what their background is.

The Princess Royal at Shrewsbury

“I spoke to the princess and was exceptionally impressed with her knowledge about the scheme, and she made some interesting points about restorative justice and how veterans might be a great group for that process.”

As snow started to fall, the princess’s helicopter landed at Shrewsbury Town Football Club and she was escorted by newly-appointed Vice Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire Colonel Mark Cuthbert-Brown to the entrance, sheltering herself under an umbrella.

Inside the football club the princess was met by the High Sheriff of Shrewsbury, Charles Lillis and Veronica Lillis, Shrewsbury mayor Jane Mackenzie, mayor’s consort Tony Parsons, Brian Caldwell, the chief executive of STFC and Lady Susanna McFarlane, the chairwoman of YSS.

Councillor Mackenzie said: “I welcomed the princess to Shrewsbury, then she asked if I was on official duty here often. I said that I was but that I didn’t work as hard as she does. I’m a huge admirer of the princess for all the work she does.”

Mr Lillis added: “The princess mentioned that she’d caught up with the time as the wind blew from the east.”

The princess then met with YSS trustees and received a brief about YSS and the Remember Veterans project, which supports ex-servicemen and women including those who end up on the wrong side of the law.

The royal party proceeded to the Sovereign Suite where there was a presentation to an audience of about 100.

The Princess Royal at Shrewsbury

The princess sat at one of the front tables as she listened about the Shropshire EnHance programme working with military families, presentations from service users and Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion who said he would be giving £25,000 to the Remember Veterans project.

The project had funding from the Armed Forces Covenant of almost £300,000 for two years initially.

Mr Campion, addressing the princess, said: “It’s a great pleasure to have you here in wintery Shropshire.

“You only have to hear about some of the life-changing stories to hear why this project is so important.

“We need to take that learning and make sure it becomes embedded into our organisations.

“I will be providing an additional £25,000 in support to the YSS to make sure we can take it to the next stage.”

Princess Anne delivered a keynote speech in which she thanked those involved.

She said: “I’m delighted to see so many of you here today.

“It comes with a certain amount of knowledge from my perspective.

“For these people in the armed forces who have discipline, coming out of that into the world it makes life a lot more difficult.

“I hope that this project will raise its profile across military organisations.

“This is about sharing the right information at the right time.

“For those of you who have been involved in the programme and have told their stories thank you for sharing.”

The Princess Royal then spent almost an hour talking to small groups of volunteers and service users and asking about their stories.

Whitchurch: Seal of approval for pioneering work

A new £1.5 million facility at a stud farm has been officially unveiled by the Princess Royal.

Princess Anne flew into Stallion Al Services at Chapel Field Stud, near Whitchurch, as part of the second leg of her visit to Shropshire yesterday.

Run by Tullis Matson, the business has become the global centre of excellence for semen collection, freezing and export, and standing stallions of international renown.

As part of her visit, the princess met staff and was given a tour of the facilities.

She also heard a presentation about the business and new facilities from Mr Matson, before she officially unveiled a plaque.

While doing so, the Princess Royal acknowledged how much had been invested in the new facilities.

She said: “As an owner of quite a number of rare breed animals myself, I thank you.”

Mr Matson was keen to thank the princess for attending as well as those people who have helped the award-winning business to thrive.

Also present at the event were local civic and business leaders as well as people representing the equine industry. The company was founded in 2000 and employs about 25 members of staff.

About 1,200 stallions’ semen has been frozen to date, and the firm is one of only two UK centres licensed for its worldwide export.

Mr Matson said: “We are a small and unique company with a big heart and a global outreach. Just this year, we invested £1.5m in a world-leading state-of-the-art facility, collecting and preserving semen from hundreds of stallions, from rare breed ponies to the Olympic legends.

“Our team is passionate about what we do, for the international sport as well as for the preservation of some of our rarest and most valuable gene pools.”

Every stallion coming to the centre receives VIP treatment, including a bespoke exercise, nutrition and handling regime.

The company has also taken a leading role in using the very latest technology to ensure the survival of endangered breeds by preserving their genes.

Through ground-breaking work with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and Chester Zoo, the company has been able to branch out into other rare and protected species, including elephants and rhinos.

In recognition of its work, last year Stallion Al Services was the first Shropshire-based company to receive the Small Business of the Year Award for the Chamber of Commerce West Midlands Region.

The same year, it also won the Shropshire Star Excellence in Business Awards in the Agriculture, Food and Farming category, as well as being named Small to Medium Sized Business of the year.

Mr Matson added: “We continuously push the boundaries to make the impossible possible.”

The princess is also the present chancellor of the county’s Harper Adams University.

Arctic chill is no deterrent to a cheerful VIP visitor

There was a warm welcome despite the weather for the princess, as the Shropshire Star’s Royal Correspondent Shirley Tart reports.

Well, our royals are certainly put on the spot sometimes when it comes to invitations.

But despite the dire warnings of Arctic weather this week, yesterday’s royal welcome was as warm as toast when a cheerful Princess Royal flew into the county to keep two long-standing dates.

And in a small room at the splendidly named Montgomery Water Meadows, home of Shrewsbury Town Football Club, Her Royal Highness swiftly removed her smart overcoat revealing an elegant jacket and skirt, followed by a layer or two of stylish scarves and an adjustment of those warmest of winter boots – leaving it all carefully draped over a chair!

Then with a cuppa in hand, it was into the business of talking, asking questions, nodding wisely and sometimes raising an eyebrow.

This is the thing about royal visits, you never really know about weather conditions (especially where helicopter or planes are involved) and since someone from the royal family is out on visits through much of the year, it always begs the question. But the question was answered as a Shropshire favourite arrived in Shrewsbury on the first leg of her mini-tour.

The venue was the football stadium where as patron of Youth Support Services, Her Royal Highness was at a conference to review the Warwickshire and West Mercia Armed Forces Covenant, criminal justice system and the Remember Veterans project.

And this princess knows her stuff. She is well prepared, can anticipate the question and, of course, deliver the answer. Those promoting the charities about which she is so passionate, are of course encouraged and delighted.


So she left a happy crowd behind at Shrewsbury before taking to the air again for the short flight to Whitchurch. And, while the first royal welcome usually comes from Lord Lieutenant Sir Algernon Heber-Percy, yesterday he was represented by his newly-appointed deputy, Vice Lord Lieutenant Colonel Mark Cuthbert-Brown. And it was clearly happy days all round.

Then the royal party took to the air for the second part of a busy day. And with her love and knowledge of horses, this one was always going to have a special appeal to the Princess Royal.

Indeed she is also well aware of her image. She once said: “When I appear in public people expect me to neigh, grind my teeth, paw the ground and swish my tail – none of which is easy.” Quite so!

And perhaps a gentle reminder that royal lives do have other interests as well. Many of them. However once at Stallion A1 Services, it was horses all the way and a chance to applaud the committed staff who keep it going and many members of the Matson family, as well as the local community who all joined managing director Tullis Matson in the special royal welcome and tour.

But there is no doubting that the world of horses is and always has been the princess’s interest as well. And it’s doubtful that any of the experts who spoke to us yesterday were telling their special guest very much that she didn’t already know in matters equine.

Stallion AI Services has been successfully practising artificial insemination for more than 18 years. They have collected semen from more than 600 stallions and carried out more than 11,000 collections.

They boast the latest technology which is envied and admired by breeders throughout the world and offer a wide range of services including semen freezing and storage, fertility testing, fresh and chilled semen distribution, mare insemination centre, training courses and AI equipment.

And the invited guests just loved their royal day looking at a specialised area of life.

Shropshire was the first county the princess visited on tour when she was just 18.

Nearly 50 years later she is also long-time president of the Save the Children Fund, which began here, and we like to think she has a soft spot for us.

We return the compliment, your Royal Highness.

Ian Harvey

By Ian Harvey

Shropshire Star Internet Editor based at the head office in Ketley, Telford


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