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Surprise visit by flower princess

NORTHWICH enjoyed a royal surprise when Princess Alexandra stopped off in the town centre on her way to opening the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park.

NORTHWICH enjoyed a royal surprise when Princess Alexandra stopped off in the town centre on her way to opening the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park.

The visit was very low-key because the Princess wanted to privately pay tribute to hard-working volunteers at two charity shops.

Staff at the Red Cross and Imperial Cancer Research Fund shop in Witton Street were thrilled as the Queen's cousin and her husband Sir Angus Ogilvy spent more than 20 minutes chatting and complimenting them on their efforts.

Princess Alexandra is vice president of the Red Cross and is a patron of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.

Area manager of the cancer research shop, Dave Cronshaw, said: 'The event was not publicised because she just wanted it very low key -­ she really wanted the emphasis on the volunteers.'

The princess was greeted by a small crowd who clapped as she walked by. The mayor and mayoress of Vale Royal Cllr Nick and Myra Harris, and chief executive of Vale Royal Borough Council Anne Bingham-Holmes also made her welcome.

The princess arrived just before 5pm on Tuesday last week and walked along Witton Street.

As she made her first port of call at the British Red Cross shop, 78-year-old war hero Robert McCullough presented the princess with flowers.

Mr McCullough, a former Royal Marine commando, was at the vanguard of the D-Day landings and served under Lord Mountbatten, as did Sir Angus. The men had a lot to talk about.

Mr McCullough, of Acton Bridge, said: 'We talked about where I had been and where he had been stationed. The princess was also very nice.'

Regional manager Lynne McMahon said: 'She commented on how well organised the shop and our sorting room was. She was very friendly and took the time to speak to every volunteer.'

A few doors down, at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund shop, the princess took tea and cut a celebratory cake to mark the shop's 10th anniversary.

There she was also presented with flowers ­ a posy of yellow roses, lilies and blue flowers, to represent the charities' colours.

A dozen volunteers were awarded with brooches commemorating five and 10 years of service, and Princess Alexandra commended each of them on their dedication.

Shop volunteer Iris Lyon, 61, of Delamere Park, received a 10-year service award. She said: 'It was a great honour to meet the princess. She was very natural and friendly.'

Shop manager Alyson Taylor added: 'She was very pleasant and chatted to everybody. She said the shop wouldn't run without the volunteers, she said we all did a very good job and that it was all down to teamwork.

'All the ladies commented on how down to earth she was, and Sir Angus seemed to really enjoy the cake and kept dipping into it!'

It was Princess Alexandra's second visit to Northwich.

In November 1993, she met representatives of the Alzheimer's Society, of which she is a patron, and visited the Vale Royal Council for Voluntary Service at the Council Houses in Church Street.

She also paid a visit to the Mid Cheshire Sheltered Workshop at Pettypool, opening the new workshops and outdoor centre for the handicapped.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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