On Wednesday 12th March, we were honoured to have HRH The Duke of Gloucester visit Fordhall Farm. We felt very much like ducks…under water (or behind the scenes) it was hectic planning and rushing about, but above water (or to all those who were attending the day) it was calm and smooth running!
The Duke arrived with several dignitaries, including The High Sheriff of Shropshire, the Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire and a few burly policemen. They were introduced to Charlotte, Ben, Connie and the members of the FCLI Board, before being escorted down to the yurts…
Before officially opening the yurts, the Duke met volunteers who have helped with the yurt renovation and other conservation projects on the farm.Chris Eldon Lee the FCLI Chairman of the Board gave an excellent speech, before inviting the Duke to unveil the plaque in front of the yurts…
He was shown around our newly renovated (Shropshire made)yurts, the eco shower and tcompost toilet. Charlotte said he was really intrigued by the latter and asked LOTS of questions…this meant that she had to discuss in detail ‘going to the toilet’ with royalty…as you do!
The Duke then went on to meet more volunteers who help out and about on the farm and was then introduced to the children of Buntingsdale School who performed a Worm Dance for him.
The visit continued over to the Community Garden, where Bex Syrett (our Community Gardening Co-ordinator) introduced the Duke to The Wayfarers group, a group of adults with learning disabilities. Then to Mike Price (our Youth Project Co-ordinator) and three young people who are currently on the project.
Children from Hodnet School were also out in the garden and the Duke greeted them too… but it didn’t end there..
Next he met with a group of shareholders, who were invited to represent the 8000 who own the farm, including our first ever shareholder, Graham Sedgeley.
Jim Critchley was one of this group, after shaking hands with the Duke, he said he would never wash his hand again!
The Duke met the staff in the Farm Shop and was also shown around the new bakery, before meeting the team in Arthur’s Farm Kitchen.
Last, but not least, the Duke went to the FCLI office where he met the staff and office volunteers. The volunteers were busy stuffing AGM Invites and copies of The Grazer into 6000 envelopes before he entered, so they were grateful for the break!
The Duke asked if the volunteers had to lick all 6000 envelopes…! We’re not that cruel, the envelopes are all self-sealing. J
After meeting everyone (almost 100 Fordhall peeps), Arthur’s Farm Kitchen served a delicious buffet, including a warm chocolate pudding for dessert, apparently, chocolate pudding is the Duke’s favourite!
Before being whisked off to his next visit, Charlotte and Ben presented him with a share certificate, ‘The Fight for Fordhall Farm’ book and a selection of meat… We don’t think he’ll forget his visit in a hurry!
And now HRH The Duke of Gloucester is a fully fledged member and landowner of Fordhall Farm.