Royal visit has given the people of Burnley 'hope for the future'

The Royal visit has given the people of Burnley hope.

That is the verdict of Pastor Mick Fleming, founder of Church on the Street which Prince William and Kate Middleton came to visit last week.

"This couple are the future leaders of this country and to know that they care about issues like poverty and homelessness and want to do what they can to help gives us so much hope," said Pastor Fleming.

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The low key visit took place last Thursday and the identity of the VIPs was kept under wraps until the very last minute when they arrived at the converted gym in Hammerton Street.

Prince William and Kate were happy to pose for photos with staff and volunteers during their visit to Church on the Street in Burnley

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had requested a personal visit to the hub, that was set up in 2019, in a bid to help the growing number of homeless people, vulnerable and disadvantaged families and those coping with addiction problems in Burnley.

The opening of the hub, that made national headlines across the UK, became possible after a BBC documentary about the charity saw donations totalling £250,000 flood in from across the UK.

Pastor Fleming added: " Prince William has a special interest in homelessness and mental health issues and Kate's field is addiction and recovery so we ticked all the boxes for them

"I was astonished at the in-depth knowledge they have and they were keen to find out how they can help moving forward with support for funding and any new initiatives.

The Royal couple with Pastor Mick Fleming and Deacon Glover (11) and his great grandma Carole Ellis

"They had real empathy and compassion for the people they spoke to. They have become part of what Church on the Street is all about."

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The visit was to highlight and champion mental wellbeing and support given during the pandemic and followed on from a tour Clitheroe Community Hospital.

The Royal couple were greeted by the Mayor of Burnley Coun. Mark Townsend who said the visit generated a real buzz of excitement in the town.

He said: " It also highlighted, specifically, the fantastic work being done to support the vulnerable and poor across the borough.

The moment the Duchess cradled baby Anastasia Barrie while her parents Trudi and Alastair look on with delight
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" It was an honour and privilege to welcome William and Kate to the town on behalf of the people of Burnley and, without doubt, the highlight of my Mayoral year to date.

"They were wonderful, putting everyone at ease, leaving lifelong memories for all those they met."

Among those their Royal Highnesses spoke to was 11-year-old Deacon Glover and his great grandma, Carole Ellis. Deacon has received support from Church on the Street since the death of his mum who was Carole's granddaughter.

Carole told Prince William he would make a 'great king' and she told Kate that Princess Diana would have loved her.

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Carole said: "I felt so at ease with them that I was able to speak my mind.

"They know the problems we face here in Burnley and they told us they would try to help the town solve them with more help and resources."

The tour of the facilities included a visit to the cafe and foodbank and they also spoke to counsellor David Allen.

Their Royal Highnesses chatted at length with Anthony Horrocks (46) who has been supported by CoTs as he has battled mental health and addiction issues.

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There with his parents, Alan and Angela Horrocks, the family were moved to tears when Prince William told Anthony he was the reason for their visit today.

Angela said: "We couldn't believe it when they said that to us. They were genuinely interested to know what Anthony has been through and how Church on the Street has helped."

As they left the hub the Royal couple posed for photos with guests and received a rapturous round of applause and calls of 'thank you' and Gerard Franklin told them 'You are loved.'

And baby Anastasia Barrie, who is three months old, stole the show when Kate held her in her arms, much to the delight of guests, as Prince William jokingly warned them not to 'give her ideas.'