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The Prince of Wales launches the 50th Harrogate International Festivals and visits Bettys

PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 March 2016

Charles with young festivals supporters

Charles with young festivals supporters

Copyright © 2015 Kate Mallender

Charles and Camilla are put to work making pastry on a visit to Yorkshire

The Duchess of Cornwall meets the flowerpot menThe Duchess of Cornwall meets the flowerpot men

It was a very relaxed Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall who attended the launch of the 50th Harrogate International Festivals. They arrived in the North Yorkshire town after meeting cheering crowds in Stamford Bridge near York, a village still recovering from last year’s Boxing Day floods. There the couple showed their concern and interest in how the floods had affected people and what was being done to alleviate the situation. It was a fleeting visit but one much appreciated by the crowds who turned out to greet them.

Soon afterwards the couple were shaking hands with organisers and supporters of the Harrogate International Festivals at the Royal Hall, Harrogate. Prince Charles described the festivals as a national treasure after unveiling a plaque commemorating the anniversary. He said as patron he was proud to be associated with such an organisation. ‘I feel that as patron of this remarkable institution, I must say how enormously proud I am to be associated over the last several years with this. It’s become a national treasure really. It has been such a treat for both of us to join you here this morning for the 50th anniversary.’

And it wasn’t long after the couple were drafted into rolling out pastry at nearby Bettys Cookery School and practicing their icing skills in the craft bakery.

But first Charles and Camilla joined organisers, staff, volunteers and supporters for performances by festivals’ former Young Musicians including soprano Lesley Garrett CBE and clarinettist Emma Johnson MBE, introduced on stage by Julian Lloyd Webber. The festivals helped launch the early careers of all three musicians.

The couple try their hand at icing Easter eggsThe couple try their hand at icing Easter eggs

Vice-president of Harrogate International Festivals, Lesley Garrett, said: ‘What is so wonderful about the festivals is its long-standing tradition of delivering such high standards in international music, but also its commitment to offering a platform to new young musicians and performers. I was one of them. Without these kinds of opportunities and the support of audiences, emerging young musicians are at risk. I was lucky to have the support of the festivals, who took the risk of investing in me when I was unknown.’

Fiona Movley, chairman of Harrogate International Festivals, added that they were especially pleased to introduce the couple to the work they do with schools, young people and the local community. She added: ‘It was a most memorable and enjoyable occasion - a truly wonderful start to our anniversary year.’

Julian Lloyd Webber and Emma Johnson MBE are Future 50 vice-presidents alongside authors, business leaders, and philanthropists, who are backing the campaign to raise £1million to safeguard the future 50 years of the arts charity.

Emma Johnson said: ‘I wholeheartedly endorse the Festival Future 50 campaign and in these times of cuts to classical music provision, I hope people can give generously to help the Harrogate International Festivals continue their excellent and pioneering work bringing the gift of music to young and old alike in the Yorkshire region.’

Best selling authors Lee Child and Val McDermid, together with business leaders Simon Theakston, Peter McCormick OBE, Dr Terry Bramall CBE and Liz Bramall and the Earl of Harewood are also vice presidents of the Future 50 campaign.

The line-up of its 2016 Music Festival and literature festivals - the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival, all of which take place throughout July - are announced as we go to print. Some of the names released include one of the best loved opera stars, Sir Willard White, Mary Portas, The Unthanks, Kate Humble, the John Wilson Orchestra, John Suchet, Oz Clarke, Jeremy Bowen and James Naughtie.

Full details can be found at harrogateinternationalfestivals.com.

Later the royals visited Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate, the Yorkshire tea room, bakery, and tea and coffee merchants, where they learned more about tea buying and the business’s commitment to strong ethical trading relationships, and to meet craftspeople at Bettys Craft Bakery and young chefs at Bettys Cookery School. They were invited to create their own special tea blend and watched the finishing touches being made to Easter eggs for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Chair of the group board and member of the Bettys family, Lesley Wild, said it was the second time the Prince of Wales had personally requested a visit to the business. ‘It’s a significant honour and recognises our commitment to quality, service and the work we do to put social and environmental responsibilities at the heart of our business,’ she said.

The family-owned business, which employs over 1,400 people, has been recognised with Queen’s Awards for Sustainable Development and holds a Royal Warrant of Appointment as Suppliers of Beverages to the Prince of Wales.

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