Camilla thrills volunteers during Wiltshire visit
3:08pm Tuesday 12th February 2013
3:08pm Tuesday 12th February 2013
Dog lover the Duchess of Cornwall was delighted to meet three search dogs as she spent today celebrating volunteers and the work they do.
Camilla, dressed in a long green coat and brown suede boots, was meeting young people and their course leaders who were working for a youth support service.
Arriving at Langley Burrell Village Hall, near Chippenham, the Duchess visited a Drugs Awareness for Young Carers course, where she was greeted by three lively black Sprocker Spaniels - a cross between a Springer Spaniel and a Cocker Spaniel.
Five-year-old Eric, 21-month-old Phoebe and Pip, 20 months, were brought along to the course run by ex-MoD policeman Stuart Phillips on behalf of Community First's Youth Action Wiltshire programme.
The dogs fussed around Camilla as she listened to Mr Phillips telling the group of about 20 young carers about the roles the dogs play in searching for drugs, firearms, explosives and counterfeit tobacco.
She was later introduced to the older and calmer of the three dogs, Eric, as she said: "They are incredible."
As Phoebe and Pip ran circles around each other - tangling their leads - Camilla added: "I've got two terriers, they do that all day."
The Duchess's two rescue dogs, Beth and Bluebell, were rehomed with her by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
Asked about her appearance with her dogs on Paul O'Grady's Christmas special - For The Love Of Dogs - which was filmed at the rescue centre, she added: "It was a shock for them coming to London, they thought they were being taken back to Battersea, so they headed straight for the car."
On the day of the visit the two Jack Russells were not raring to go back, attempting to drag the Duchess back to the car, entangling their leads in her legs.
But she had no such problems today with Eric, Phoebe and Pip, who later turned their attention back to the class of young carers who duly spoilt them with lots of pats and cuddles.
Mr Phillips set up BWY Canine Specialist Search Dogs, in Pembrokeshire, after leaving the MoD Police and travels around the country teaching groups of young people about the dangers of drugs and the effect they have on people's lives.
He said: "As soon as I heard she (Camilla) was coming, I realised she is a dog lover, she was on Battersea with Paul O'Grady at Christmas, and her face just lit up when she saw the dogs.
"It was a bit chaotic in there, but she seemed genuinely interested in how the dogs assist in the education of children and young people about drugs and drug abuse."
The Duchess chatted with several of the young carers and spoke to them about their home situations.
Francesca Watson, 13, from Chippenham, helps her mother to look after her younger brother, Jude, who has autism.
"It was amazing meeting Camilla, I was so happy when she walked in, I couldn't believe she would come here," she said.
"I was slightly nervous, but in the end I felt I was a lot calmer when I finally met her.
"We spoke about my caring role, what I do at home and how often I look after my brother."
Camilla had earlier met a smaller group of young people who are not in education, employment or training and were gaining skills learning about basic bike mechanics.
The courses were delivered by Community First's Youth Action Wiltshire
programme, which the Duchess has been patron of since July 2005.
The service offers support to a network of 72 youth clubs and also to disadvantaged and vulnerable young people aged five to 25 years.
The Duchess later went on to visit the Wiltshire Scrapstore and Resource Centre in Lacock, where she was given a present ahead of the royal baby birth.
Camilla had joined a storytelling session when she was handed a book called The Best Present Ever as a gift for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby.
The fairytale, about the birth of the baby of a King and Queen, was written by the patron of the Scrapstore and Wiltshire-based children's author Neil Griffiths, who told the Duchess "you might want to keep this until July".
During the visit, which is near the Duchess's Wiltshire home, she toured the building - an Aladdin's cave of unusual materials, filling a sack of arts and crafts materials for her five grandchildren.
She met some of the 50 volunteers who keep charity going by knitting and sewing items for sale in the charity's shop.
The volunteers had also made the Duchess two chicken doorstops - one each for her and her husband - which were labelled Charles and Camilla.
Camilla, who is passionate about the importance of reading and is patron of a number of literacy charities, then joined the storytelling session with a number of local children and families in the newly-finished community room.
After officially opening the room, Camilla said: "It's wonderful to find a gem like this on my doorstep. I will definitely be bringing my grandchildren here in the future."
Jane Wheeler, chief executive of the Scrapstore, said: "Thank you so much to Your Royal Highness, it's amazing that you are here to share this special day with us."
After the visit Neil Griffiths added: "It's such an honour to have this visit. There are over 50 amazing volunteers keeping this place going and for them to have this royal recognition spurs us on in these difficult times.
"It's great that the Duchess has put us on the map".
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