There was a carnival atmosphere in Kirkby Lonsdale when Prince Charles visited the town today, Thursday.
Hundreds of people filled the bustling market square and surrounding streets in the hope of meeting the Prince of Wales.
And they weren’t disappointed.
The prince charmed everyone he met and spent much longer than intended on his tour of the town. On his walk through the streets the prince sampled real ale from Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery, spoke to schoolchildren, received gifts from shopkeepers, met market traders, spoke with dignitaries, listened to brass bands and passed the time of day with countless locals.
Surrounded by a sea of cameras and phones, the prince’s first port of call was the town’s market square which has seen a renaissance in recent months.
Town councillor, Donald Carmichael, was one of the first to welcome the prince.
He said: “Prince Charles asked if the market was thriving and I explained that the town council has taken it over because it had been on its last legs. His recognition of the work we are doing here has given us a huge boost.”
Kirkby Lonsdale residents, Mike Marczynski and Mel Mackie, said they had also told the prince that the market was doing well.
Mr Mackie said: “We always hear about his visits to places down south. It’s brilliant that he has come here. It’s put Kirkby Lonsdale on the map.”
Making his way through the throng, the prince popped into the Love The Lune community shop and information centre.
Community Interest Company director, Judith Manifold and Liz Saunders, said the prince was “very natural” and that he liked the tea towels on sale in the shop.
Judith said the prince’s visit would give the town a lift and everyone was delighted that he had shown such a strong interest in the market.
She said: “We’ve done a lot of work on the market. We’ve turned it around. The fact that he’s visiting now is wonderful because it’s a year since we took over the market. It has been a great success.”
Volunteers Charlotte Southard and Connie Gray said the prince had been interested to hear about tourism in the town and they had presented him with a commemorative cushion embroidered by local designer, Kay Porteous.
Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said: “The prince spoke about his fondness for the area and his desire to support it.
“It’s brilliant timing as Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council has done a superb job in reinventing the market and giving it a new life.
“It’s twice the size it was a year ago.”
The prince chatted with many market traders including Alan Stephenson and Stuart and Richard Taylor from Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery.
They showed him how to pull a pint and he tried a glass of Jubilee Stout, describing it as “excellent”.
Alan said: “He likes his ale so we gave him some as a present to take away. We said the Duke of Edinburgh might like to try some too!”
Yet more people followed the prince as he made his way along the main street to St Mary’s Church.
Mrs Andrea Day from St Mary’s Primary School said the prince had told her the children looked a little cold and that he liked their Easter-themed outfits.
One of the pupils, who shook hands with the prince, said he would never wash his hand again.
Further along the street at the Sun Inn the Prince spoke to manager Mark Fuller.
Mr Fuller said: “He told me he’d have liked to drop in for a quick nip.
“It’s fantastic that he’s come here. There is a real buzz around the town.
“He has been very generous with his time.”
At St Mary’s Church the prince met the rector, the Rev Richard Snow, and the founder of the Friends of St Mary’s, Mrs Eileen Flight. He also presented certificates to two local volunteers who are retiring, who have helped to maintain the church grounds for the past 16 years.
Allan Muirhead, chairman of Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council, added: “This is quite a day for the town. We’ve given him a good welcome.”
Earlier in the day the prince visited Kitridding Farm at Lupton just off Junction 35 of the M6 in Lancashire.
As patron of the Countryside Fund, the prince announced the opening of applications for the Land Rover Countryside Fund Bursary Scheme which aims to support rural countryside communities by offering five individuals or businesses a Freelander 2 for a year.
HRH met farmer Stewart Lambert and his wife Christine along with representatives of the Countryside Fund. He watched four Land Rover training demonstrations including trailer towing, GPS Navigation techniques, winching capabilities and off road driving.
Then it was time for a spot of tea in the farm shop where he met representatives from all of The Prince’s Countryside Fund projects which include beneficiaries from The Farmer Network, The Dry Stone Walling Association and Mysercough College as well as the Land Rover representatives.
He made a short speech at the end of the reception to launch the Bursary Scheme.
Later in the day the prince visited HF Holidays at Thorns Hall.
HF Holidays specialises in promoting a sense of community through walking and leisure activity holidays. The prince met staff and residents and had a walk through some of the house before joining a reception in the lounge.
His final visit of the day was to Bonds Precision Castings, part of the Bonds northern foundry group at Alston in Cumbria.