Charles and Camilla's first port of call was the Duchess' patronage Cornwall Community Foundation at Treverbyn Community Hall. During lockdown the hall served as a base to support the local community.
I loved reading about the foundation's inception. Its roots are very much drawn from community spirit:
'In 1998 a group of far-sighted people identified the need to give those struggling in the community a voice and to establish a source of funding for community self-help within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. That small acorn grew to become the Cornwall Community Foundation in 2003.
Since 2003, the Foundation has awarded more than £9 million to Cornish communities, supporting more than 5,000 local, grass-roots organisations. In 2019 alone, £734,000 was awarded in grants to strengthen communities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Our aim is simple, we bring together people who want to help Cornish communities with projects that make a real difference.'
It's through that shared community spirit volunteers and team members mobilised at the beginning of the pandemic by launching the Cornwall Emergency Appeal to support locals whose lives have been drastically impacted by COVID-19. Raising over 1.5 million pounds, the foundation has been in a position to award more than 150 grants to community projects thus far. The fund was boosted by a £100,000 donation from the Duke of Cornwall’s Benevolent Fund - a charity established by Prince Charles in 1975 to benefit local communities. It's just one of countless examples of the close ties - decades in the making - between Charles (and now Camilla too) and Cornwall.
Tamas Haydu, Chief Executive of Cornwall Community Foundation, commented: "The donation from the Duke of Cornwall's Benevolent Fund will make a very substantial difference to the charities and community groups in Cornwall who are working to support people struggling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Foodbanks and other frontline charities are all reporting an increase in demand for their services." Simon Fann, Manager of Truro Foodbank, stated that "in March 2020 we fed 533 people, nearly 50% being children. In comparison in the same period, 2019 we fed 192 people, 119 being adults and 73 being children." Today was an opportunity for the royal couple to hear first hand how the funds are supporting the area.
The Duchess served up lunch with representatives from local charity the Hive, which prepares meals for those in need using surplus food. She was astounded to hear they had served 100,000 meals since March. Charles thanked the team for their "fantastic efforts", describing their dedication as "marvellous".
Camilla also took the opportunity to thank teachers from neighbouring school Treverbyn Academy for their hard work in recent months.
From there, the Duke and Duchess visited St Austell Healthcare at the Wheal Northey Centre to thank staff for their efforts during Covid-19.
They met a number of staff from St Austell Healthcare and Institute for Social Prescribing in the South West, including nursing staff, mental health staff and cleaning staff.
During a speech, Prince Charles stressed the importance of crediting those in general practice: "We have heard a lot recently about the heroic work being done in hospitals during this pandemic crisis, but I believe it is now also time to thank those of you in general practice and primary care for the heroic work that you have all been doing and performing within your communities. I must say, I have nothing but immense praise for doctors and nurses, but what strikes me most is how this vital work is part of a vast team effort and I am so grateful for this opportunity to meet with those other members of the team: the receptionist, practice manager, allied health professional, practitioner in mental health, social worker, volunteers and those working in the voluntary sector and, of course, those working in care and nursing homes. This nation owes each and every one of you, here and everywhere else, an immense debt of gratitude."
The future king continued to offer his support for "social prescribing", noting the proven value of "help beyond our conventional medicines", such as exercise and art for patients.
'That brings me finally to social prescription – which is something that I have supported and spoken about for many years. Here in St Austell you were pioneering social prescription well before it was national policy, and so meeting Hayley Burgoyne and her team today has been, for me, a most heartening experience. They are living proof, if it was ever needed, that beyond our conventional medicines and procedures there are so many other interventions that can contribute to our health, wellbeing and healing.
I understand that St Austell is also a well-deserved test bed site for the Institute for Social Prescribing hosted by the South West Academic Health Science Network. This new Institute, I hear, aims to develop, test and spread new ideas in social prescription. That seems to me to be such an effective way of exploring the huge potential of social prescribing - using the wisdom of those who, like yourselves, are the pioneers in this immensely important and fast-developing field of the health service.
The work that you are doing here with an emphasis on the psychosocial as well as the biomedical, mobilising the whole community and exploring the limits of how we can help each other, is surely a lesson to us all? I really am so delighted to see St Austell and Cornwall leading the charge on how we can create healthy, sustainable local communities and I can only say that what I have seen and heard today gives me enormous hope for the future. So, well done Ladies and Gentlemen, many congratulations and thank you for setting a wonderful example to everybody else. Thank you.'
We'll see the couple in Devon tomorrow!