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Smiling in the rain as Princess Alexandra meets Telford community heroes

By Shirley Tart | Ironbridge | News | Published: | Last Updated:

She arrived to a happy and welcome gathering waiting deep in the valley at Coalbrookdale.

The Princess at Maws Craft Centre with Pride of Telford Award winners

And even a sudden rainy day couldn’t hide that wonderful smile and absolute ability to listen to guests.

Insisting that she did indeed speak to as many as possible, Princess Alexandra had come to view more than a furnace, attractive though that experience is. She clearly enjoyed meeting us again – an experience with which we were also very happy.

Indeed we love our royal visits. And two favourites in less than a month have already helped make this one a real summer special for Shropshire.

WATCH: Princess Alexandra in Telford

Royal visit: Princess Alexandra in Telford

The Princess Royal was in the county in the Spring at Barrow and at the newly created riding for the disabled feature near Much Wenlock.

Then last week, Sophie Countess of Wessex joined some of us for a splendid day round the Ludlow area hearing about the Plymouth Estates and the Smithfield Club.

While yesterday that regular visitor to Shropshire, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, delighted guests and officials and arrived to the warmest of welcomes on what has pretty well become a mid-July annual visit for her – and a big treat for us.

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Looking at a model of the Iron Bridge at The Museum of Iron, Coalbrookdale
Princess Alexandra was fascinated by the exhibits on show at the Museum of Iron

As ever, the Princess was accompanied by another Shropshire favourite, and one whose home is in the county, her lady-in-waiting Meriel Afia who lives near Shifnal.

After touring Maws Crafts near Ironbridge, Her Royal Highness headed through the tree-lined valley for Coalbrookdale and perhaps the most historic of its 10 museums, the restored and saved Museum of Iron.

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And it was here that the Princess was to see the fine furnace, restored into its one time splendour. And later, to give her official blessing to the splendid café which has been the dream of so many involved with the museum.

Princess Alexandra unveils a plaque at The Furnace Kitchen, Coalbrookdale
Princess Alexandra in Telford

Since he retired as Lord Lieutenant at the beginning of the year, Sir Algernon Heber-Percy has been President of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and it was an all-round pleasure when at the revived Enginuity project, Sir Algy was formally presented to Her Royal Highness by the present Lord Lieutenant, Anna Turner.

In the past he has many times met and escorted the Princess.

While an active and influential trio then joined the group to tell their part of the story which houses so much of our history and our story.

Princess Alexandra with Mayor of Telford & Wrekin Stephen Reynolds

Lady the Hon Jane Heber-Percy, Gaye Blake Roberts chairman of Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, and Gillian Crumpton, the Trust’s Director of Collections and Learning.

And so it was for the afternoon which also took in ‘gazebo’ tours leaving fascinating groups talking about them later and a big thank you to many of those involved with the museum such as Jessica Terry in the under-18 section as an outstanding volunteer.

And for me, as a museum patron, who has known these projects and those who people them so well over so many years, it is always a delight to visit and see the progress being made.

Meeting staff from the costume project at Enginuity

The Lord Lieutenant Sir Algy and so many others were delighted with the day and the museum got a great boost.

Her Royal Highness took the most delightful tea which she said was enjoyable... and then went into the kitchen to say thank you to all those working behind the scenes.

That’s what this particular Royal lady is like. Thank you for coming, Ma’am!

Right royal tribute to community heroes

The rain may have poured but spirits would not be dampened as Princess Alexandra brought a touch of royal sparkle to Telford’s community heroes.

Her Royal Highness visited Maws Centre Craft Village to meet Telford Community Award winners.

Looking resplendent in olive green, she will have been pleased to have remembered her hat as the heavens opened on her arrival.

The Princess at Maws Craft Centre with Pride of Telford Award winners

She was greeted by Anna Turner JP, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire, Nicola Kershaw, deputy lieutenant of Shropshire, and met several dignitaries including Mayor Stephen Reynolds.

She then presented Group 1 Community Award winners with personalised certificates.

Jessica Terry, 15, won the outstanding volunteer under 18 award. She also saved the lives of her mum Julie after she had a stroke, and her sister Megan 13, from anaphylactic shock.

She said: “The Princess said congratulations and thinks what I did was amazing. She wanted to meet my mum. She must have read about me.”

Meeting some of the Pride of Telford winners

Other winners from the group were Julie Ward, unsung hero, Feed the Birds group who won the outstanding volunteer group award, Hannah Whitmore who won best community support individual and Jo Barrow, Zoe Davies and Fliss Connor, who won best community support group.

The Princess was then escorted to the second gazebo area where she presented Group 2 Community Award winners, who were Claire Martin for sporting achievement, Gary Annett for inspirational healthy lifestyle, Cameron Watson for outstanding educational achievement, Street Champions volunteer group for their environmental work, Holy Trinity Academy children for best school environment and Denso Manufacturing for social responsibility.

HRH then presented recipients of the Leader and Cabinet Awards. Winners were Jess Audin, 15, the vice-chair of VOICE, Marcus Keane, Telford Memories Facebook historian, Eli Henderson, dyslexia champion and Caro Hart, chief executive of Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Telford & Wrekin. The princess then had a group photo with the mayor and award winners,

Shirley Tart

By Shirley Tart
Associate Editor (Shropshire Magazine) and Senior Writer

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