Duke of Gloucester visits three different projects in Wisbech
Wisbech enjoyed a day in the Royal spotlight on Friday with a visit of the Duke of Gloucester.
The Duke, who is cousin to the Queen, spent over four hours in the town visiting three different projects and meeting the local people behind them.
His day started at the Oasis Centre, which is located in the Waterlees ward and is the most deprived wards in Cambridgeshire.
Chris Stevens, the centre’s manager, who admitted to being nervous before the visit said the event had gone extremely well.
She said the Duke was given various presentations including on the challenges faced by the Waterlees ward and one by Anglian Water on Wisbech 2020.
Chris said the Duke showed a great deal of interest in the centre and its partnership working as well as its various projects.
The Duke heard about the Wisbech Community Development Trust, which a small local charity which owns and runs the Oasis Community Centre and news that the trust as secured fund from the People’s Health Trust to recruit 20 local residents to become community champions. Their role will be to created a community plan to use to help secure future funding for the ward.
He was also told of the trust’s hopes to extend the centre to include a community cafe, multi-purpose sports hall and youth facility.
He also popped into speak to the children in the Oasis Nursery to see what they enjoy doing, this is run by Cambridgeshire County Council and also Age UK Day Centre, to chat to some of the clients.
The Duke then moved on to visit meet the People & Animals team who told him about the work they have been doing with their therapy dogs, but also their exciting venture to create a community farm, which will be built on Lynn Road. During his visit to the farm site he planted their first tree - an Oak - was funded by Anglian Water.
His last stop of the day saw him at St Augustine’s Church where he attended a short service of dedication for the ‘100 Poppies’ created by volunteers at the back of the church using knitted poppies to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
He was welcomed by the Rev Canon Matthew Bradbury who gave a short address to the 150 strong congregation, which included Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Evans, chief of staff at the Australian High Commission in London, outlining the horrific statistics of the war.
The Duke unveiled the memorial which has a poppy with the name of every Wisbech resident killed during the Great War, including three Australians from the Jude family, which was why Lt Col Evans was in attendance.
The service was a culmination of five years of hard work by the Friends of St Augustine’s which has seen special commemorations for each of the four years of WW1.
The Duke spoke of the country’s long and distinguished history and said: “Every now and then we like to look into the past and remember what our predecessors have done for us. We have all been very aware for the past few years that this is the centenary of the First World War and have been reminded of the total shock of that war, which at one time saw eight million people in a uniform of one sort or another.
“During WW1 every family played a part. It’s on an occasion like this we look back and see what our predecessors achieved for us and remember the sacrifices they made and for all these reasons I am delighted to unveil this plaque and congratulate all those people who played a part in its creation. It will remind people of that sacrifice.”
The project started in September 2014 with the Poppy Link Initiative which saw volunteers knit poppies which were then made into a chain and hung around the church. Each poppy bore the name of one of the fallen from Wisbech War Memorial.
From there project has grown with more and more displays set up around the church commemorating different aspects of the war. The Duke was accompanied to look at the displays by Jessie Tindale, who was one of the project leaders.
Exhibitions included information on The Brooke charity which was set up after the war by Dorothy Brooke to help former war horses who were sold-off for a life of hard labour in Cairo.
Canon Matthew said afterwards: “This was a wonderful occasion, we’re delighted His Royal Highness could be here.”