Prince Charles in Northumberland

Prince Charles at the garden party for volunteers and carers at The Alnwick Garden.  Picture by Jane Coltman
Prince Charles at the garden party for volunteers and carers at The Alnwick Garden. Picture by Jane Coltman

Prince Charles charmed all who he met on the second day of his Royal visit in Northumberland.

The Prince of Wales began day two with a visit to Moorland Spirit Company Ltd’s Hepple Gin distillery. The company is undertaking a juniper restoration and propagation project on the Northumbrian moors around the distillery.

Prince Charles meets Maurice Frost in the Stuart Halbert drop-in centre at The Alnwick Garden. Picture by Jane Coltman

Prince Charles meets Maurice Frost in the Stuart Halbert drop-in centre at The Alnwick Garden. Picture by Jane Coltman

His Royal Highness visited the estate to learn more about the sustainability programme that has been set up in association with the Northumberland National Park. The rejuvenation

programme plants out at least 200 juniper seedlings each year, all grown from the estate’s own seed. With permission from Natural England, the team has been allowed to plant into the highly-protected Site of Special Scientific Interest on the heather moors around the distillery, adding to the older stands already there.

The Prince of Wales visited the tiny but experimental distillery and learnt more about the innovative triple technique which the Moorland Spirit Company has pioneered. Its gin-making

takes seven-times longer than normal and uses three quite separate systems which provide the uniquely fresh, invigorating taste to the award-winning Hepple Gin.

Prince Charles unveils a plaque in the Stuart Halbert drop-in centre. Picture by Jane Coltman

Prince Charles unveils a plaque in the Stuart Halbert drop-in centre. Picture by Jane Coltman

Following Hepple, the heir to the throne travelled to Alnwick. He emerged from the gates of Alnwick Castle and walked through Bowburn Park to The Garden, accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.

He was greeted at The Garden by the sweet sounds of the saxophone by talented Alnwick musician Jonny D. The Prince took time to chat to the 21-year-old, who played the Elvis track Can't Help Falling In Love.

Jonny said: "I was really nervous to begin with, but once I was playing, I was fine. The Prince said that he really enjoyed my performance, which was very nice to hear."

Next up, His Royal Highness met three sisters - Eileen Gearing, Sheila Maddison and Audrey Maddison - who are long-time supporters of The Garden. Sheila and Audrey have been coming to The Garden every Tuesday for the last 15 years, while Eileen has joined them for the last seven years. They said that it was very exciting to meet the Prince.

Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland chat to musician Jonny D. Picture by Jane Coltman

Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland chat to musician Jonny D. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Royal visitor then took time to visit the Stuart Halbert drop-in centre, which is part of The Garden's Elderberries scheme designed to combat isolation and loneliness among Northumberland's elderly community. Some of the Elderberries users to chat to the Prince were Maurice Frost, 86, from Thropton, and Tom Dundas, 80, from Alnwick. The Prince then unveiled a plaque in the drop-in centre to honour his visit.

Prince Charles then met Garden staff before being introduced to Derrick Ions, who has raised more than £75,000 for the Great North Air Ambulance Service by selling his carved sticks and wooden items.

His Royal Highness then attended the garden party, where hundreds of carers and volunteers from around Northumberland had been invited by the Duchess in her role as Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland. The Prince took his time to meet and chat to as many of the attendees as he could and said it was a joy to listen to their inspirational stories.

Among those to chat to the Prince at the garden party was Alnwick father Mark Tuff, who runs the charity Clarty Commandos – Outdoor Learning for All, which is an outdoor forest school for children with additional needs. Mark, who cheekily got a selfie with the Prince, said that it was an honour to attend the garden party and he was representing all of the children that he works with.

Prince Charles with Alnwick Garden regulars Eileen Gearing, Sheila Maddison and Audrey Maddison. Picture by Jane Coltman

Prince Charles with Alnwick Garden regulars Eileen Gearing, Sheila Maddison and Audrey Maddison. Picture by Jane Coltman

At the end of the party, the Duchess praised and thanked the volunteers and carers for their efforts, saying that they make Northumberland a great place to live.

Yesterday, on the first day of his Royal visit in Northumberland, Prince Charles went to The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre on Hadrian’s Wall; Hexham; Kirkharle; and Kielder Salmon Centre and Hatchery, at Kielder Water and Forest Park.

Derrick Ions shows Prince Charles his sticks. Picture by Jane Coltman

Derrick Ions shows Prince Charles his sticks. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Prince with the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Prince with the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. Picture by Jane Coltman