Princess Anne captivated staff and residents at a centre for deafblind people in Bourne when she toured the sensory facilities it provides.
The Princess attended the Bourne Resource Centre run by charity Sense on Friday, where she found out about how the senses of users of the centre are stimulated though activities.
During the tour, the Princess, who was wearing a classic thigh-length tweed jacket, gold earrings, black trousers and boots, witnessed a ‘sound bath’ session in which staff stimulated residents by playing rhythmic instruments such as drums and maracas.
In a talk the Princess, who is the patron of Sense, gave her royal seal of approval to the centre and unveiled a plaque as residents and dignitaries including Deputy Lieutenant of Lincolnshire Lady Margaret Benton Jones looked on.
In a heartwarming speech, The Princess, said: “I would struggle to find more places like this. They are not easy to come by. Here is a good lesson in growing services.
“With the right people and the right place you can make a real difference.
“It is really nice to see people understand what Sense is doing.
“Somewhere along the line you have to say this is a person here and parents and carers know that individual needs to be supported to give that person a life. Sense has the ability to help in that area.”
After she unveiled the plaque the room was filled with the sound of clapping and cheers as centre user Kirsty Munsey handed her a colourful bouquet of flowers.
The centre, which offers stimulating and interactive activities that promote wellbeing for individuals with sensory, mental and psychical impairments, has a range of facilities for its visitors; including arts and sensory rooms and a vegetable garden.
During the tour, the Princess met several parents including Morag Winston, aged 54, and her son Harry, 20, who has been attending the centre for the past year, uses a wheelchair and has balance issues.
The Princess chatted with Morag about the horse riding activities that Sense provides for Harry who has a number of disabilities, including Down’s Syndrome and West Syndrome which causes him to have seizures.
Morag, of Deeping St James. said: “It was just lovely that she came here.
“She was really interested to hear that he had good balance on a horse.
“She is a very down to earth person so we didn’t feel reluctant to talk to her.”
During the sound bath, staff banged metal bowls and as she left the room where the activity was taking place the Princess joked that they would make a good alarm clock.
Staff members William Booker and Luke Black spoke to the Princess about how the centre users grow their own plants and vegetables as well as showing her the garden they tend to.
Speaking afterwards, William, who is a team leader, said the Princess was very interested in the centre’s garden and was very nice to the residents and staff.
During her tour the Princess also got to see how residents make pottery and visited a sensory room.
She met Norman Brown, of the Rotary Club of Bourne, and he said the Princess was impressed when he told her the group helped fund a new pottery kiln for the centre in 2013 after the one it had broke down.
Accompanying the Princess on her tour was Heather Powell, the education services manager at the centre, Gillian Morbey, Sense chief executive, and Lady Benton Jones.
Other dignitaries attending the event included the chairman of South Kesteven District Council Bob Sampson (Ind) and the mayor of Bourne Paul Fellows.
The Princess was due to visit the centre in February but had to cancel after her helicopter suffered a malfunction.
Gillian told the crowd before the Princess spoke: “As social care centres and charities are struggling, centres like this are even more important.
“Working together is the only way we are going to come through some of the challenges we are experiencing at the moment.”