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No wool over his eyes: Prince Charles visits Cumbria


The Prince of Wales spent Wednesday in Cumbria

The Prince of Wales spent Wednesday in Cumbria in the north west of England where his engagements all had a countryside connection. The Prince carried out a series of visits linked to a wide range of agricultural and environmental causes and heard how people in the area are keeping some of the oldest rural traditions in Britain alive.

Prince Charles began his day at the Rheged Centre just outside Penrith in Cumbria. Charles arrived at Penrith by train and in a speech at the centre he told listeners how the scenery on the journey had raised his spirits.

And it was there that the countryside connections began as the prince spent nearly half an hour touring a photographic exhibition about sheep farming in Cumbria. The display, called ‘Herdwick: A Portrait of Lakeland’, took photographer Ian Lawson over five years to put together. The exhibit is a celebration of the industry around the famous breed which has been farmed in Cumbria for around 1,000 years.

Charles went on to meet some of the farmers featured in the exhibition and representatives from the Prince’s Countryside Fund in Cumbria which has so far distributed around £800,000 in the county. Charles spoke to some young shepherds who have been helped by the organization. He also spent time with members of the Campaign for Wool, of which he is patron, to hear about their work in Cumbria. And at the end of a busy morning there was a chance for a cup of tea and some locally produced snacks.

There was more sheep talk for the prince on his second engagement of the day as he travelled to the Westmorland Agricultural Society Centre in Crooklands where he met more local farmers as well as food producers.

And another ancient rural tradition, still alive and well in this part of England, was on display as the Dry Stone Walling Association explained their latest initiatives to the prince. Charles is their patron and during a speech at Crooklands he told of his pride at his association with the organization but said he had found dry stone walling like ‘an impossible jigsaw puzzle’.

Charles’s engagements also focused on job creation and how local companies get more involved in their communities. As part of this, Charles heard about broadband connections in the most rural parts of Cumbria and the impact that slow internet speed can have on creating employment and business opportunities.

And the final engagement in the county saw The Prince show his support for apprenticeships and getting young people into work. He popped into furniture making company Peter Hall and Son in Staveley near Kendal which employs around 20 staff and has apprentices supported by the Prince’s Trust. The family run firm was set up in 1972 and has grown into a well established brand and employer which has already seen dozens of apprentices progress through its ranks. Charles met many of the current staff and apprentices during his visit.

Prince Charles is a regular visitor to Cumbria and was last in the county in April 2014. And his latest trip has shown his support for the environmental and agricultural causes which are so close to his heart.

Photo credit: By Dan Marsh (Flickr: Prince Charles (derivate by crop)) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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