Staff and volunteers from Wokingham Citizens Advice offered up a right royal welcome to a very special visitor today.
They packed the offices in Erftstadt Court in Wokingham’s town centre, along with MPs Theresa May and Sir John Redwood, to greet the Princess Royal.
She was visiting to help the centre make the 80th anniversary of the organisation and to unveil a commemorative plaque.
Flying into the Langborough Recreation Ground by helicopter, having already visited the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst this morning, the Princess Royal was greeted at Citizens Advice.
After a tour of the newly refurbished advice bureau, and the opportunity to meet some of Wokingham’s committed volunteers as well as people that Citizens Advice has helped, Princess Anne unveiled the plaque celebrating the 80 years that Citizens Advice has been in operation.
Her Royal Highness also addressed the staff and volunteers: “It is a pleasure to join you today, and also celebrate your new paint job.
“The history of the Citizens Advice Bureau is an interesting one.
“It originated as a place where people could get advice across the country, as they began to move around after World War Two.
“In peacetime, it remained relevant and has gone on to remain relevant still.”
“In your 42 years of operation [in Wokingham], it has shown to be absolutely necessary, and its relevance is every bit as important as today.”
Commenting on the importance of Citizens Advice, Mrs May said: “Often people feel wary of asking for help, but if they had gone earlier, maybe the problem would not have escalated.
“It’s all about seeing a friendly face.”
After the unveiling at Citizens Advice, the Princess Royal was welcomed to the Wokingham Borough Council offices at Shute End.
Speaking to the audience in attendance, she said: “Citizens Advice brings together information that people find difficult to understand on their own.
“Your ability to listen to individuals and give them options on how to deal with the problem they’re facing means that people know they can come to you for advice without judgment.”
She presented certificates to long-standing supporters. Magaret Newstead was given a special recognition award, while long service honours were given to Roland Mear and Sue Cornish.
Jake Morrison, the Wokingham Citizens Advice chief executive, emphasised the organisation’s importance to the borough.
“We are in it for our communities,” he stressed.
Before her departure, the Princess Royal was presented with a posy from eight-year-old Westende Junior School pupil Jefferson McCamwick-Copley. She was escorted to her car by Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, James Puxley and Mr Morrison.
Afterwards, Tim Abbott, chair of trustees for Wokingham Citizens Advice, said: “I was delighted to have HRH The Princess Royal here, and to give her a chance to hear about the difference that Citizens Advice makes to people’s lives.”
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