Rotherfield streets are full for Royal visit
AN EXCITED crowd of flag-waving villagers and visitors welcomed the Earl and Countess of Wessex to Rotherfield.
The royal couple were in the village on a Jubilee visit to charity Rotherfield St Martin, which provides support and care services to senior citizens in the community.
It was a proud day for the charity's founder and manager Jo Evans and chairman Andy Miller.
Excitement mounted as the police cavalcade arrived followed shortly after by the royal visitors.
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The relaxed and smiling couple spent time chatting to members of the public who had lined the streets.
The Countess, wearing an elegant satin floral dress, spotted Labradoodle dog Bingo wearing a union flag coat, and she went over to stroke him and chat to owner Alison Close.
"I said he was dressed especially for the occasion and she gave him a bit of a stroke and he looked nice," said Mrs Close, 44, of New Road.
"It is so exciting for the whole village they have come."
Royalist Michelle Cooke, 45, of Hollinshurst Road, managed to present the Countess with a bouquet of flowers.
"It made my day. They are such a lovely couple," she said. "He was really chatty. He asked me if I had had to walk far and I said just via a hill and he asked did I have to walk up or down and I said unfortunately up."
The royal couple then went into Rotherfield St Martin's headquarters to meet members of the Knit and Natter club and spent time looking round and finding out about the work of the charity.
Margaret Brightmore, who joined the club two years ago, said the couple had been extremely friendly and put everyone at their ease.
Margaret Farmer, 74, a member of the club said: "It is a real honour they have come. Jo has worked so hard to get things going."
The royal couple then walked down North Street chatting to well-wishers and supporters and were met by cheering children outside Rotherfield Primary School.
"He asked me what my favourite subject was and I told him art and drama," said Thomas Hawkey-Soar, nine.
The royal pair then went into the village hall to spend time with members of Rotherfield St Martin.
There was a light-hearted moment when the Countess compared sitting down for a few minutes at each table with speed dating.
She asked her husband if he had received any offers yet and said he had more chance than she did.
Andy Miller, chairman of Rotherfield St Martin told them: "Your visit has added some very wonderful icing to our Jubilee cake.
"It is difficult to believe how far we have come since Jo Evans' dream started to become a reality but the recognition your visit has brought will strengthen our determination to carry on."
During the visit on Wednesday the couple also unveiled a plaque created by artist Deborah Tompsett.
Charity founder Jo Evans said: "It has been wonderful and exciting for us to be honoured this way.
"The fact we have been chosen, and a charity which works with old people has been recognised this way, has been a real boost for the older generation."