DAY centre users danced around a room with royalty as they demonstrated the importance of volunteers.

Crowds excitedly gathered in Banbury today to meet Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, with some even managing to shake her hand as she arrived.

Her Royal Highness visited the Cornhill Centre to learn more about the 'priceless' support it provides for older people.

HRH then moved on to Second Time Around, a furniture store and tearoom in the town, which provides training and volunteering opportunities for adults with learning disabilities. 


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The Duchess was greeted this afternoon by the Mayor of Banbury, councillor John Colegrave. 

HRH, who is president of the Royal Voluntary Service, took part in a popular class at the day centre called International Dance Club.

Volunteer Avis Gallager, 72, who runs the class with 82-year-old Joan Sprittlehouse, said: "It was fantastic to give The Duchess of Cornwall a flavour of the fun we have in class.

"I thoroughly enjoy running the dance club and getting as much out of it as the people who attend.

"It’s wonderful to watch their enjoyment and know how important it is to them – for many, it’s the highlight of their week."

Oxford Mail:

The Duchess of Cornwall during the visit. Picture: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

The Royal Voluntary Service mobilises volunteers to support those in need.

More than 80 volunteers help out at the Banbury centre, which provides activities including art and craft, gentle exercise, dancing and music.

Volunteers also run a community companions service, and a transport scheme to help people get out and to medical appointments.

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Catherine Johnstone CBE, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, said: "Our Cornhill Centre is always a hive of activity and it was fantastic to be able to show our president, HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, just why it’s so popular with the local community.

"Staying active and maintaining social connections are vital to ageing well.

"Our centre provides a vast array of options for older people to come together to have a chat and take part in an activity of interest to and connect with others at the same time as maintaining or improving their own fitness."

The centre is also supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Oxford Mail:

The Duchess of Cornwall during the visit. Picture: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

Hazel Johnstone, senior programmes manager at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: "It was great to meet Royal Voluntary Service volunteers again and get a flavour of the fantastic activities that are run from the centre.

"The clubs and groups that take place at the Cornhill Centre and those run across the country, really are priceless as they enable people as they age to stay not only active but also connected to their communities."

Oxford Mail:

The Duchess of Cornwall at furniture store and tearoom Second Time Around. Picture: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

HRH also met two of the charity’s youngest volunteers, seven-year-old Amelia and her five-year-old brother Bobby.

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The pair have been volunteering at the Cornhill Centre for two years with their mother, Stephanie Gourley.

The 28-year-old said: "It’s nice to do something different with the children and it has taught them so much about life.

"By spending time with older people and facilitating activities, they have learned a different way of interacting with people and that not everything revolves around children!

"They have learned patience, listening skills, grown in confidence and formed strong cross-generational bonds. It’s such a different environment to what the children are used to when we attend the normal children-only groups."