It was billed as “a very special charity day” and the pre-lunch visit of Princess Alexandra to an event at Thornley made it just that.
The princess had been invited to attend a charity lunch at Ferrari’s Country House Hotel to mark the anniversary of the visit, a century ago, of the widow of Edward VII, Queen Alexandra to what was then known as Black Moss Mansion.
During her visit, Queen Alexandra planted two horse chestnut trees at the entrance to Black Moss and a hundred years later, on another blustery winter’s day, her great grand daughter Princess Alexandra followed those royal footsteps back to Black Moss where she too, planted a horse chestnut tree.
The princess was also greeted by the Ferrari family, their staff, Longridge Band and 250 well wishers including Mayor of Ribble Valley Coun Richard Sherras, Mayoress Lynne Pate and other dignatories.
Dressed in a green velvet suit, black boots and fur-trimed hat, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy, the youngest grand daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, 44th in line to the throne, spent time chatting to the throng.
Alice Turberfield from Broughton said: “Isn’t she a lovely person? She is so genuine. She has been shaking hands with everyone, not just those with chains on.”
And Carole Houghton said the princess commented on the beauty of the area, to which she replied: “Yes all the Ribble Valley is lovely, but we don’t tell everybody!”
Lancashire Young Farmers’ county president, Doreen Wilson, from Goosnargh, attended with friends from Preston Lady Farmers. A keen royalist, she said one of her first glimpses of royalty was when, as a four-year-old, she was taken to see the Queen at Preston’s Harris Museum by her auntie, and had only been able to see the Queen’s legs!
Another group represented at the lunch was Preston North Rotary Club. Founder member Tom Croft said it was important they were were there because of their services to the community and Rotary wife Lesley Sumner explained why she was there, saying: “I am a royalist and also I have always wanted to attend a royal reception.”
The lunch was raising funds for the Alexandra Rose Charity, a hospital charity started by Queen Alexandra; the North West Air Ambulance; Lancashire First Responders; Longridge Community Hospital and Great Eccleston Cancer Research.
Thanking Princess Alexandra - who also signed the visitors’ book during her visit - for attending, Susan Ferrari said: “We are most honoured,” but the princess replied: “I would like to thank you all for coming to see me,” also congratulating everyone for raising funds for charity, adding there were a lot of needy causes.
Before Princess Alexandra left, Susan Ferrari’s eight-year-old grand daughter Amelie Varache presented the princess with a posy of flowers.
Pictures by Caroline Holden