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Their Royal Highnesses visit communities in Congleton, Cheshire

24th January 2018

The Duchess of Cornwall meets the Christmas Lunch team at The Old Saw Meal

The Duchess of Cornwall meets the Christmas Lunch team at The Old Saw Meal

The Duchess of Cornwall was given the inside story on how the lives of women inmates are being transformed as she visited a Cheshire prison and its highly rated restaurant, The Clink.

The Duchess met prisoners working at The Clink, adjacent to the prison, where women with less than 18 months to serve are given the chance to earn City & Guilds NVQ qualifications in food service and food preparation and then helped to find employment within the hospitality industry on their release.

Her Royal Highness met kitchen staff preparing the day's menu which included pork tenderloin, venison and sea bream. She also met prisoner Liz, 53, who had been working front of house at The Clink for four months and had nearly completed her NVQ Level 2 in food and beverages.

Liz said: "I told Camilla that customers come back time after time so it's good you get to know them.

"I was completely out of my comfort zone when I first started but I have ended up quite enjoying it.

"The hospitality industry is huge so this is something I have got and can certainly consider when I am released."

The Duchess went on to meet prisoners who have benefited from the various work-based training and education programmes at HMP Styal.

One such initiative is Books Unlocked, a partnership between the National Literacy Trust and the Booker Prize Foundation which started in 2012 and involves prisons across England and Wales. Man Booker Prize-shortlisted books are serialised as audiobooks on National Prison Radio, which is broadcast into approximately 80,000 prison cells.

Meanwhile, The Prince of Wales visited Quarry Bank – a National Trust Site based around a cotton mill. The Prince explored a worker’s cottage to see how renovations had changed the site since he last visited in 2010.

Their Royal Highnesses then travelled to Congleton, where their first visit was to The Old Saw Mill – a community hub used by activity groups such as dancers, Meals on Wheels and the local knitting group.

The Prince and The Duchess also met the Christmas Lunch Group, who cooked Christmas lunch for twenty residents (and one dog!) who would otherwise have been alone on Christmas Day.

Upon leaving The Old Saw Mill, The Prince of Wales enjoyed a drink after paying an unscheduled visit to a pub - called The Prince of Wales!


The Prince of Wales in The Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales in The Prince of Wales

The Prince, who sampled some of the beer, told drinkers: "If there's anywhere I can get a free drink it's a pub called the Prince of Wales."

Pub regular Steve Pullen, 64, said: "He was asking about local breweries. We did know he was visiting today but we didn't know much about it so we weren't expecting to meet him."

"We recommended a beer to him."

A large crowd gathered in Congleton as Their Royal Highnesses walked up to the Town Hall, where they were met by a Guard of Honour from local Air and Army Cadets, Scouts and Guides.

In a short speech, The Prince of Wales said he had been "thrilled" to join them to celebrate 700 years since the town first appointed a mayor.

He said: "I've greatly enjoyed getting the brief opportunity to meet so many of you who I know do so much."