DESPITE incessant rain Prince Charles’s visit brought a ray of sunshine to the Calder Valley.
Hebden Bridge welcomed him with smiles, laughter and a colourful snippet from the weekend’s Handmade Parade as he walked into St George’s Square en route to Hebden Bridge Town Hall, where he and members of the Business in the Community charity sat down to discuss a plan of action.
Dressed in a grey suit, light blue-and-white striped shirt and brown shoes - and sporting a white buttonhole - he managed to fend off the rain as he went walkabout from a school to the town’s Market Street, chatting to everyone from schoolchildren to cinema staff and traders to parade performers.
Hebden Bridge Picture House usherette Anne Evans, of Sowerby, and duty manager Lorraine Mitchell, of Luddenden, were among the first to meet the Prince at Central Street Infants’ School, which is still picking up the pieces after the floods two weeks ago.
Anne said: “I shook his hand and curtseyed. He seemed really concerned and asked about whether we were flooded and how we had rallied round. I invited him to see our first digital film but he said he had to go.
“I told him it was a free bar but I couldn’t tempt him! He was really nice and was pleased we had managed to re-open the cinema so quickly.”
The Prince of Wales also met Rob Holden, who organised the Calder Valley Flood Victims Facebook group to offer support to those whose homes or businesses were affected by the floods up and down the Calder Valley.
And there was plenty of laughter as the royal visitor chatted to Food Angels co-ordinator Michaela Booth, a professional chef who lives in Todmorden, and members of her team - Victoria Kavanagh, Kelly Sayer and Ashleigh Cooper. They and other volunteers, including Helena Cook, who could not be present, organised food, cooking and delivering 800 meals to people whose homes were devastated.
The Prince’s visit provided a much-needed boost to Hebden Bridge, which was sent reeling when floodwater poured into homes, gardens and shops a fortnight ago.
Now his charity Business in the Community will aim to help Calder Valley businesses affected by the flooding to recover and move forward.
See Thursday’s Hebden Bridge Times for more details and a host of pictures from the day.