The Duchess of Cornwall to Visit Banbury

The Duchess of Cornwall
The Duchess of Cornwall, in her role President of the Royal Voluntary Service, during her visit to the Dolau Bran Lunch Club to celebrate the club's 40th anniversary at Dol Y Wern in Llandovery, 2019.


Wednesday 29th January 2020

Engagement 1

The Duchess of Cornwall, President of the Royal Voluntary Service, will visit the RVS at Cornhill Centre, Banbury where HRH will join the volunteer run International Dance Club.

The Duchess of Cornwall will be greeted by The Mayor of Banbury, Councillor John Colegrave and take a short walk to the Cornhill Centre. HRH will meet CEO of the RVS, Mrs Catherine Johnstone, who will introduce The Duchess to the Centre’s staff and volunteer groups, including their youngest volunteers, Amelia (7 years old) and Bobby (5 years old). HRH will also meet a representative from The People’s Postcode Lottery and learn of the invaluable funding the centre receives from them.

In the main room, HRH will meet volunteer teachers, Avis Gallager and Joan Sprittlehouse, who will lead an international dance class and invite HRH to join in. The Duchess will then meet with volunteers and members.

When HRH leaves, she will pass the adjacent garden which will soon evolve into the ‘Banbury as an Age Friendly Town’ (BAFT) Project Garden and accept an Age Friendly Brooch.

Royal Voluntary Service

Royal Voluntary Service is one of the largest volunteering organisations in the country to date, inspiring and enabling over 3 million people to give their time to help others to meet the needs of the day. Currently nearly 20,000 volunteers a year give their skills, experience, and time to help people in the community and in hospitals.

In the community, volunteers run a raft of activities, clubs and services that provide older people with the opportunity to forge vital social connections that have a positive effect on their physical and mental health. The volunteers supporting the NHS help to improve patients experiences in hospital and aid recovery at home. Royal Voluntary Service is also one of the largest hospital retailers with 230 volunteer-run shops, cafes and trolley services providing tea and company to patients, hospital staff and visitors.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has been President of the RVS since December 2012.

Royal Voluntary Service Cornhill Centre, Banbury

Royal Voluntary Service’s Cornhill Centre in Banbury is open 5 days a week and offers a weekly programme of volunteer-run activities, including art and crafts, gentle exercise, dancing and music. In addition, the Cornhill Companions friendship service, is run from the Centre. The Centre’s cafe is open from 10am-2pm for drinks and light refreshments and volunteers are on hand to share information about local activities for older people that may be of interest. The Centre has six staff and 80 volunteers with the oldest volunteer, Joan, age 82 and the youngest, Bobby, age 5!

One of the centre’s most popular classes is its volunteer run International Dance Club which started in 2004. The club is run by volunteers Avis Gallager (72 years old) and Joan Sprittlehouse (82 years old). Each week an average of 25 older people attend the class and take part in a range of international dances including line dancing, folk and circle dances. The club, and others the charity runs like these, are vital for the health and wellbeing of older people. They encourage older people to stay active but also to socialise at least once a week.

Ageing Actively

The Duchess is an avid supporter of helping the elderly. HRH works with age-friendly initiatives including Silverline, a helpline for elderly people to combat loneliness and also promotes keeping the older generation active.

In November 2019, The Duchess visited an Active Elderly session, at the Salvation Army in Christchurch, New Zealand. Find out more about the visit here.

In December 2019, The Duchess attended a fan making class with a group from the Royal Voluntary Service at The Fan Museum in Greenwich. Read more about the visit here.

Engagement 2 

The Duchess of Cornwall will visit Second Time Around, a furniture store and tearoom, which provides training and volunteering opportunities to promote work, social inclusion and independence for adults with learning disabilities.

The Duchess of Cornwall will be met by the Project Manager, Mr Nathan Wallis with whom HRH will tour the antique shop, visit the eight different shop units and meet Stall Holders. HRH will then go on to learn a skill from an apprentice restoring furniture in the workshop before enjoying a cup of tea in the Curiositeas Coffee Shop with sponsors, service users and trustees. Former students that have learnt their skills and gone on to gain work elsewhere will be in attendance.

Second Time Around Charities is a project that provides training and volunteering opportunities to promote work, social inclusion and independence for adults with learning disabilities.

They focus this training around antique and furniture restoration. Items of furniture that have been restored are available for sale within the shop. Second Time Around have a strong ethos on the environment and promotes the reuse of furniture by offering a commissioning service where customers can choose how their items are restored.

Those that take part in the project learn many skills and gain certification to recognise their achievements. They are encouraged to interact with the wider community through business based activities, attendance of public selling events, etc. It is Second Time Around’s aim to build confidence, increase networks and breakdown stereotypes and prejudices. The coffee shop which opened last year, added to further training opportunities that the organisation is able to provide. Second Time Around also rent out small unit spaces for traders to sell from.

In 2018, Second Time Around Charities won the Cherwell Business Awards for Charity and Community. Find out more here.

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