On Monday, the Earl and Countess of Wessex visited Somerset where they, amongst other things, pressed apples at one of Somerset’s oldest cider making firms.
The Royal couple visited Thatcher’s Cider, which was established in 1904 and is now a fourth generation family company, where the new £3 million Jubilee building has been developed to help cope with increased demand for ciders both in the UK and overseas.
As well as seeing the firms new kegging line at first hand, the Earl and Countess also heard how the Jubilee building has been built to meet the highest sustainability aspirations. The couple met staff at Thatcher’s, including the orcharding team, delivery drivers and talked to the firm’s cider makers. In addition to meeting the staff at Thatcher’s, the company’s Chairman John Thatcher together with his Grandson, Peter, took the couple through the orchards and explained how a new harvester has been designed to protect the apples during harvesting to maintain quality.
The visit to Thatcher’s Cider culminated in a plaque unveiling and presentation of gifts. Martin Thatcher, Managing Director said: “This has been an exciting day for all of us here at Myrtle Farm. To be able to show Their Royal Highnesses how we are responding to the demands of the market by expanding our packaging and warehouse facilities has been a very proud moment. Named in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, The Jubilee building is spectacular and will be a great asset to the development of Thatcher’s and to the people who work here”.
After their visit to Thatcher’s, Edward and Sophie moved on to see dramatic evidence of the impact this year’s floods had on the Somerset Levels. The visit to the village of Moorland saw the couple meet residents of Moorland, Somerset Emergency Volunteers and members of some of the agencies who are still helping residents to recover from the floods.
The rendezvous for the meeting was a portable building which serves as the village hub. To the left of the hub on a resident’s garage door a tide mark half way up showed just how devastating and deep the floods actually were. The Royal couple spent nearly an hour talking to those who responded to the biggest peacetime emergency that Somerset has seen.
Julian Taylor, a Sedgemoor district councillor, who is still living in temporary accommodation following flooding in nearby Fordgate, was introduced to Their Royal Highnesses, along with his Wife Mary. When speaking about the visit, he said: “I said thank you for coming today. It helps people who are thinking about the major resources needed to make sure this does not happen again”.
From Moorland, Prince Edward made his second visit to see the work of volunteers running Burnham Area Rescue Boat who also played a vital role in helping flood hit communities.
The Countess also opened the Somerset Care Home, Green Hill House in Cheddar, Somerset. She also visited Yoxter Cadet Training Centre near Priddy.
When the couple joined together again they had an open top bus tour of the famous Cheddar Gorge, where they travelled to the famous caves and met Richard Stevenson, the pioneering cave diver who led the exploration of the underground river beneath Goughs Cave. The also met Dr Peter Glanvill who led the team of cave diggers who found The Frozen Deep, which is the largest cave chamber so far discovered in Britain.