The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall Visit Kent

New Patron for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
The Duchess Of Cornwall with Willow the dog during her visit to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.



Engagement 1

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will visit Sheppey Matters at Sheerness Healthy Living Centre and meet community groups who help and promote the health of the local community. Their Royal Highnesses will also meet a local settled migrant family.  

On arrival at Sheppey Matters, the Gillingham Community Choir will be performing. Their Royal Highnesses will be met by the Lord Lieutenant and Nigel Martin, the CEO of Sheppey Matters, before meeting those involved with the Community Chef food truck and ‘Sheppey Wheels’ community bus. 

Upon entering the Centre, TRHs will walk past The Battle of Britain Commemorative Lace Panel displayed on the wall, one of around 30 made as a tribute to “those who gallantly saved this island” depicting scenes of the bombing of London, the aircraft used in the battle, the badges of the Allied air forces and the floral emblems of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. 

TRHs will meet a settled migrant Syrian family who have been helped through the Kent Refugee Action Network (‘KRAN’). They will be accompanied by Dr Razia Shariff, CEO of KRAN which recently won the 2022 Hans Albrecht Human Rights Award for outstanding contribution to Human Rights. The charity’s main focus is highly practical, in supporting refugees and asylum seekers through advocacy, teaching and support, and developing the opportunities to engage with the local community. 

TRHs will then tour the centre, meeting several community groups including those dealing with men’s mental health, a group that supports people and families with ADHD, a creative art project, a loneliness support group and a Nordic Walking group. 

TRHs will then visit the award-winning community radio station – 92.2 Sheppey FM and meet some of the volunteer presenters and production team before signing a visitor’s book on departure. 

Sheppey Matters 

Sheppey Matters was formed in 1994 due to significant concerns around local health issues and the high rates of morbidity. Driven initially by the NHS, several organisations and service providers were consulted, the result being the formation of Sheppey Matters. The newly formed group was chaired by Michael Brown, and it still is 28 years later. 

Today the bulk of Sheppey Matters’ projects that promote and protect the health of those living in the Isle of Sheppey are based at the HLC, but recent years have seen a branching out across the Island. The Community Radio Station project (92.2 Sheppey FM) operates out of The Pavilion next to the Healthy Living Centre. The charity also has a third base in Eastchurch village hall (HUB), a community allotment in Minster and a beach hut in Leysdown. 

There is a CEO and currently 28 members staff and 76 volunteers. 

Projects to be visited by TRHs 

1,2,3 ADHD and Me – The 123, ADHD & Me project works alongside the Rural Youth Project in tackling the significant need for support for young people and their families affected by ADHD and Autism. 

Hub Crafting Group – The hub at Eastchurch was set up 8 years ago and invites residents from across the Island to join informal sessions including a book club, IT training and assistance, crafting and sewing groups as well as community projects such as “green days”. They have a beach hut at Leysdown that is used for meeting groups and individuals. 

Mentalk Group – The Mentalk project was formed in 2019 with Ryan Thompson and Sheppey Matters – working towards a united goal of getting men to talk. 

In 2020 a total of 5,449 suicides were recorded in the UK, three quarters of these were men. Mentalk aims to encourage men to talk about mental or physical health problems or anything else deemed “private”. It hosts several informal drop-ins supported by men who have lived experience of mental health issues and, in some cases, as suicide survivors, offering support and a safe space to talk. 

So far, there are three drop-in sites across the island with additional activities planned such as a charity football match, a race car event, the building of a sensory garden for all to enjoy and the growing of vegetables to donate to food banks. 

Isle Connect You Project – Loneliness and social isolation in older adults brings a serious public health risk that affects a significant number of people in the UK, putting them at risk of dementia and other serious medical conditions. 

Isle Connect You is a lottery funded project aimed at reducing isolation and loneliness in the over 65’s, offering a bespoke befriending service for every participant, from garden gates, arts and crafts to day trips. 

The project’s biggest achievement so far is getting the elderly generation digital, especially as many have been even more isolated during the pandemic. The oldest client, aged 95, has successfully learned how to Zoom – enabling her to be included in virtual events. 

Nordic Walking – Nordic Walking works the whole body, building lean muscle tissue, cardiovascular fitness and improves bone health, it works on the similar principle as being buoyant in the water, but the upper body supports the lower body with the aid of poles. 

Community Radio Station – Built in 1924, the historic bowling pavilion had been left derelict for over 7 years until it was repurposed for community use as the ‘Sheppey Community Media Centre’. The internet community radio station was established in 2012 as a Sheppey Matters project and media training courses were delivered to local schools and disadvantaged people. The radio station was so successful that it achieved its FM status from Ofcom in 2017 in recognition of its outstanding community achievements. The ethos of 92.2 Sheppey FM is to support people from all walks of life by offering volunteer and work experience opportunities and accredited Arts Awards qualifications to young people. The station is predominantly run by volunteers and has a thriving Youth Show. 

Awards given to the station include the ‘Swale Business Award’ for ‘Impact in the Community’, several ‘Swale Volunteer Awards’ and six national community radio awards. Sheppey FM provided a vital link for the community during the lockdowns, broadcasting throughout. In May 2021 the station became the home of the official Tourist Information Centre for the Island. 

Community Chef and FoodTruck – The Community Chef project was launched as part of Kent County Councils “Towards 2010” targets. Its aim was to explore a range of potential community healthy eating opportunities together with the development of existing initiatives on the Isle of Sheppey. 

As an initial single year ‘pilot’ project, Community Chef went on to develop its programme with all Swale’s Children Centres and further commissions have seen the project work with Jobcentre Plus across the County. The project was commended for its outstanding results where over 70% of course participants went back into full time employment. 

As a multifaceted project, Community Chef has worked with the elderly, isolated, mental health, and drugs/alcohol teams and, more recently, with the Prison Service. In 2017 Mike Spackman, Community Chef, was nominated locally and won the National BBC Food & Farming Awards ‘Cook of the Year’ 2017 title. 

Engagement 2

The Prince of Wales, Patron Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, will visit Elmley National Nature Reserve, Kent. 

Elmley is unique in being the only family owned and managed farm to be designated a National Nature Reserve in the UK. Philip Merricks and his wife Corinne have transformed an intensive arable and livestock farm over 40 years into a site with international wildlife significance. Their pioneering landscape scale approach has resulted in the restoration of nature to the 3,300 acre site. The Reserve is particularly renowned as a successful breeding site for wading birds, including lapwing and redshank, and thousands of visitors visit the marsh to see the flocks of migrating waders and wildfowl. 

Engagement 3

The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, will make her first visit to the charity’s centre in Brands Hatch, Crowhurst Lane, Ashford, Kent TN15 7HH. 

On arrival at the centre, Her Royal Highness will be greeted by members of staff and a ‘Doggy Guard of Honour’. The Duchess will then tour the dog kennels and cattery before joining Battersea Ambassador, Paul O’Grady MBE, on a brief woodland walk with a rescue dog which is yet to be rehomed. Inside the clinic building, The Duchess’s own dogs, Beth and Bluebell, will be invited to join one of Paul O’Grady’s dogs in a training challenge known as ‘Temptation Alley’. The premise of the game is that the dogs are encouraged to ignore dog treats set out on a path and walk straight to their owner at the other end. 

About Battersea Brands Hatch 

Battersea Brands Hatch opened on 26 October 1999 and provides a calmer environment for those dogs and cats struggling to cope with the busier centre in London. 

The centre, located in the Kent countryside, is surrounded by 12 acres of fields, including a woodland trail, to help with training and providing a spacious tranquil setting for the animals in their care. 

Battersea has three centres, of which Brands Hatch is the largest in terms of land. The centre has rehomed around 3,000 dogs and cats over the past five years alone and cares for 41 dogs and 20 cats on average at any one time. 

About Battersea 

Founded over 160 years ago in 1860, Battersea is committed to helping every dog and cat in need – championing their rights, loving their imperfections, and expertly caring for them. The charity has helped more than three million animals and believes every dog and cat should live in a home where they are treated with love, care and respect. 

In recent years, Battersea’s influence has extended well beyond the gates of its three centres and they continue to use their voice to affect changes in legislation, including increases to sentences for animal cruelty. Five years ago, Battersea launched its Academy, supporting and training animal rescue practitioners and organisations from around the world. To date over 43,000 animals have been helped beyond Battersea’s gates. 

Since 2012, Battersea have worked with ITV on the popular prime-time TV series, Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs and will be filming on the day of the visit. Paul became a Battersea Ambassador in 2012 and is the proud owner of several Battersea rescue dogs. 

As a charity, Battersea is reliant on the generosity of the public to continue to fund the vital work they do helping dogs and cats and the people who care for them. 

Battersea in numbers (figures for 2020): 

  • More than 3,000 animals helped across the three sites in 2020 
  • A further 43,000 animals supported through the charity’s wider work. 
  • 345 dogs reunited with their owners. 
  • An average of 7 animals rehomed each day. 
  • 2,500 operations carried out by Battersea’s world-class veterinary team 

Battersea and Royal Patronage 

The Duchess of Cornwall has been the Royal Patron of Battersea since February 2017. This is her first visit to the Brands Hatch centre. 

As Battersea’s Royal Patron, Her Royal Highness has previously visited the charity’s Old Windsor centre in 2017 and again in December 2020. 

The Duchess of Cornwall’s relationship with Battersea stretches back to October 2010, when Her Royal Highness visited the charity’s iconic South London centre to open its state-of-the-art Cattery, in its 150th anniversary year. The Duchess returned to Battersea in 2012, accompanied by her two Battersea rescue dogs Beth and Bluebell. Her Royal Highness later opened the new Veterinary Hospital and Centre of Excellence in September 2016. 

Battersea’s Royal patronage began in 1865 with Queen Victoria. The Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, became the first Royal guest when he visited the Home in 1879 and five years later his youngest brother The Duke of Albany was the first member of the Royal Family to rehome a Battersea dog, a Fox Terrier. Queen Elizabeth II became Royal Patron in 1956. 

In addition to the Home’s Royal Patronage, HRH Prince Michael of Kent is Battersea’s President and is a proud owner of a Battersea Labrador, Shadow. 

Engagement 4

As Patron of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, The Prince of Wales will visit The Historic Dockyard Chatham, two days before the 2022 season opening to see some of the Dockyard’s flagship projects, including the Command of the Oceans Gallery and the story of Namur, the ship “beneath the floor.” His Royal Highness will be the first to visit new, temporary exhibition Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 (opening 12 February) and see the Dockyard’s three historic warships, HMS Gannet, HMS Cavalier and HM Submarine Ocelot, the latter of which will be celebrating her 60th birthday in May. His Royal Highness will also meet staff and volunteers.  

On arrival at Chatham Dockyard HRH will be greeted by The Mayor of Medway, Mrs Jan Aldous; Chief Executive, Medway Council, Mr Neil Davies. 

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will then walk through a small honour guard made up of the Sheppey and Medway Sea Cadets. 

Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, Chairman, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and Richard Morsley, the Chief Executive, will escort HRH to the Command of the Oceans galleries, where the award-winning project will be explained. The galleries were opened to the public in 2016 following a £9.2m capital project and tell the story of Chatham through the Age of Sail. 

HRH will see the exquisite model of HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, before viewing objects recovered from the 1758 wreck of HMS Invincible and the remains of HMS Namur which is a unique archaeological find and has been described as the most significant maritime archaeological discovery since the Mary Rose. Over 10% of the frame of this 90-gun ship was discovered beneath five layers of floor of the Wheelwrights Shop in 1995. 

HRH will then visit the No1 Smithery, a scheduled ancient monument, which was constructed in 1800 to help meet the Dockyard’s growing need for ironwork. Today the building houses temporary exhibition, ‘Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744’, a partnership project with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust and Bournemouth University. Opening on Saturday 12th February, the exhibition, tells the story of Invincible, her capture and the lasting contribution she made to the Royal Navy. 

HRH will then view the three historic warships: HMS Gannet, HM Submarine Ocelot and HMS Cavalier. HMS Cavalier and the adjacent bronze memorial form the National Destroyer Memorial, remembering the 142 Royal Navy destroyers and 11,000 service men lost during the Second World War. The unveiling of a bronze monument created by the artist Kenneth Potts was conducted by HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh in 2007. 

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust (CHDT) – The Charity 

Established in 1984 on the closure of the Royal Dockyard CHDT was given the freehold of the 80-acre Georgian dockyard and charged with its stewardship and a remit to provide education services explaining its importance in supporting the Royal Navy over a 400-year history. The legacy of 100 Georgian buildings and structures, 47 of which are Scheduled Ancient Monuments, represented both an opportunity to place the Historic Dockyard back at the heart of local pride and identity and an enormous challenge. CHDT has always seen itself as a significant player in the regeneration of the Medway towns so socially and economically damaged on the departure of the Royal Navy in 1984. 

Command of the Oceans 

Command of the Oceans is an award-winning series of galleries that tell the Age of Sail story associated with the Royal Dockyard at Chatham. 

The Namur (1756) 

The Namur is a unique archaeological find and has been described as the most significant maritime archaeological discovery since the Mary Rose. Over 10% of the frame of this 90-gun ship was discovered beneath five layers of floor of the Wheelwrights Shop in 1995. Following an extensive process of identification, the ship was discovered to be the Namur, a 2nd Rate Ship of the Line built in Chatham in 1756. Namur was the flagship of Vice-Admiral Edward Boscawen in the capture of Louisburg in 1758. General James Wolfe had sailed across the Atlantic in Namur on this occasion before his capture of Quebec. Also on this journey was 6th Lieutenant Michael Henry Pascal, with his slave and servant Olaudah Equiano. In his book, Equiano wrote that the ceremony of surrender was “the most beautiful procession on the water I ever saw”, and gives more detail of the occasion. Namur was the flagship of Admiral Sir George Pocock in the Battle of Havana and also fought in the Battle of Cape St Vincent (1797) under the command of Captain James Hawkins-Whitshed. Namur was astern of HMS Captain, under the command of then Commodore Horatio Nelson, at the beginning stages of the battle. 

The ship was broken up in Chatham c.1833 and was laid to rest under the floor of the Wheelwrights Shop but to this day, the Trust has no record of why this action was taken. 

No.1 Smithery 

No.1 Smithery was constructed in 1801 to help meet the Dockyard’s growing need for ironwork. Today, in a joint project between the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, Royal Museums Greenwich and Imperial War Museums, visitors can unearth incredible stories told through objects, paintings and play. It houses over 3,000 ship models and artefacts from our partner museums. A selection of these collections are on display within a permanent exhibition gallery. No.1 Smithery is also home to a temporary exhibition gallery which hosts a programme of changing exhibitions throughout the year. 

Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 

Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 is The Historic Dockyard Chatham’s temporary exhibition for 2022, opening to visitors on Saturday 12 February. Visitors will be able to tread the seabed virtually and investigate the exciting finds from HMS Invincible – the darling of the Royal Navy that ran aground on a sand bank over 260 years ago, dramatically sunk beneath the waves and was preserved for over two centuries on the ocean floor. While Invincible’s final resting place remains the bottom of the Solent, this exhibition, collated after an emergency underwater excavation of the famous 18th century battleship, tells the story of Invincible, her capture, the lasting contribution she made to the Royal Navy fleet and her subsequent sinking and rediscovery by a fisherman in 1979. The exhibition is a partnership between Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust and Bournemouth University. 

Three Historic Warships – which will be seen outside on the dock 

HMS Gannet 

A sloop of the Victorian Royal Navy, HMS Gannet was built on the River Medway at Sheerness in 1878. Designed to patrol the world’s oceans, she ‘flew the flag’ protecting British interests around the world. She saw service in the South Pacific, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Powered by both sail and steam, with a hull constructed from stout teak planking on a strong iron frame, this highly significant vessel forms part of the United Kingdom’s core national collection of historic ships. 

HMS Cavalier 

HMS Cavalier is a retired C-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She was laid down by J. Samuel White and Company at East Cowes on 28 March 1943, launched on 7 April 1944, and commissioned on 22 November 1944. She served in the Second World War and in various commissions in the Far East until she was decommissioned in 1972. 

HM Submarine Ocelot 

Launched in 1962, HM Submarine Ocelot was the last Royal Navy warship built at Chatham. She was one of 57 submarines built at Chatham between 1908 and 1966. 

Engagement 5

The Duchess of Cornwall will open ‘The Making of Dickens’ exhibition an immersive exhibition about the life of Charles Dickens who was born and lived in the county. 

On arrival at the museum Her Royal Highness will be met by dignitaries including the Deputy Lieutenant of Kent Wing Commander Peter Gilbert, Leader of Medway Council Cllr Alan Jarrett, and Richard Hicks, Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive, Medway Council. HerRH will also be greeted outside by a number of guests wearing Dickensian/Victorian dress. 

On entering the building HerRH will learn of the council’s involvement in promoting tourism in the area as she heads to the first floor of the museum. 

HerRH will open ‘The Making of Dickens’ exhibition and undertake a tour of the exhibition. During the tour HerRH will be shown some of Charles Dickens’s personal artefacts. 

HeRH will then join local school children from St Margaret’s at Troy Town, Church of England Primary School, to listen to an extract being read from Great Expectations. It will be read by Gerald Dickens, great, great grandson of Charles Dickens. The children may also ask The Duchess questions about her love of reading. 

The Duchess of Cornwall is passionate about shining a light on the importance of literacy, with a particular interest in encouraging a love of reading and writing from an early age. 

In 2021, The Duchess launched an Instagram page, The Reading Room. The @duchessofcornwallsreadingroom Instagram page offers new seasons of HRH’s book recommendations, as well as exclusive insight from the authors themselves in a community space for book lovers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. 

“The Making of Mr Dickens” Exhibition 

The Making of Mr Dickens is a new immersive exhibition about Charles Dickens. It explores Dickens the man, and the inspiration he derived from living in Medway. 

The new gallery is housed in the Guildhall Museum, Rochester, and will be the starting point of a visitor’s journey to Medway to understand Dickens. 

Charles Dickens went to school and spent his childhood in Chatham and later in life he bought his dream home at Gads Hill Place just north of Rochester. To Dickens, as a child, Medway would have been filled with industry, the Navy and military as well as many vibrant and lively theatrical performances. His childhood and later life in Medway would have given him lots of insights into characters, local people as well as local places and buildings which you can still see in Medway. 

The exhibition explores his life and inspirations and was developed working with ‘Guildhall Live Events’ a delivery company which is part of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. The exhibition starts with stories of his childhood – there is a giant replica model of his childhood house followed by a small theatre stage showing a short film about his childhood and life. 

The exhibition briefly explores the difficulties he experienced when he worked in a blacking factory and his father being in a debtor’s prison. A further room celebrates his successful career as a journalist and writer and a large shop window illustrates this with artefacts from this era. The visitor then enters a room dressed as his study at Gads Hill Place where you find out about his later life and final years in Medway. This room contains a few personal effects of Dickens such as his walking stick, paperweight and letter opener. 

As you leave the exhibition there is a map showing all the locations in the area with links and connections to his life in Medway but also buildings which have been his inspiration in some of his novels. Each room has sound and projection telling the story and setting the scene as well as artefacts and graphics. 

The Guildhall Museum, Rochester 

The Guildhall Museum is housed in one of the finest 17th century civic buildings in Kent (built in 1687). The building is topped with a superbly gilded weather-vane in the form of a fully rigged 18th century warship. The Guildhall displays a rich selection of civic silver dating back to 1660 and the Council Chamber is lined with 18th century portraits of local dignitaries. 

The museum and collection was founded in 1897, in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It was first set up in Eastgate House, further along Rochester High Street, and was moved into the Guildhall in 1979. 

Engagement 6

The Prince of Wales will visit Copper Rivet Distillery at Chatham Docks, Kent. 

The Copper Rivet Distillery, set in the historic and magnificent Victorian Pump House No. 5, is a craft distillery which produces small batches of exceptional gins, whiskies and vodkas from scratch in bespoke stills. 

It is the only spirit maker in Kent, and one of just a few in the UK that undertakes the complete process of brewing and distilling from grain to glass as it uses Kentish grain grown in fields within 20 miles of the distillery. 

Engagement 7

The Duchess of Cornwall Patron Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) will meet volunteers who restore and preserve historical aircraft. Her Royal Highness will also view the organisation’s new home and hanger at Rochester Airport.

On arrival at the MAPS hangar, HerRH will be met by Philip Cole, the Director of MAPS. HeRH will also meet the director of the airport before being introduced to groups of volunteers. 

HerRH will be given a brief update on their plans for the new Visitor Centre and HerRH will be shown the project that they are currently working on which is the restoration of a 1930’s sea plane – Short S.16 Scion 11 Floatplane G-AEZF. 

Following the tour of the hanger, HerRH will join the MAPS chaps for a group photograph in front of the Scion fuselage, before departing

MAPS is made up of a group of volunteers from the Medway Branch of The Royal Aeronautical Society. The volunteers restore and preserve aircraft and artefacts for public display. 

In 2010, the members received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. In 2011 Her Royal Highness became MAPS Patron. 

The society started in 1977. The first restoration at Rochester Airport was the RAF Manston ‘gate guardian’ Mk XVI Spitfire, which now is now housed in the Memorial Building at the airport

The sea plane HerRH is going to view is a Short S.16 Scion 11 Floatplane G-AEZF and it was designed and built by Short Brothers at Rochester in the mid 1930’s. 

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