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By Debbie le Quesne

A lesson from the flag wavers who won an audience with a prince

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I think I like Prince Charles. He’s outspoken, has valid and strong opinions on the countryside and preserving rural life and is passionate about his beliefs.

Recently he visited the Poundbury extension to Dorchester, which is based on his planning ideals. It’s been hailed as a “sustainable model village” and it’s been going now for 20 years.

The development combines social and private housing with work and leisure facilities and is designed to put the needs of people before cars.

What’s this got to do with the care industry? Frankly, not a lot. But an unscheduled episode during that visit says an awful lot about our elderly and a prince that’s developed a heart for the people.

Poundbury, which is set to be complete by 2025, will then house about 5,000 people. As he made his way through the Duchy of Cornwall community, he was hi-jacked by more than 20 flag-waving residents at Colten Care’s Castle View.

The residents were determined to attract his attention and seize an opportunity to chat to the heir to the throne. And they were not disappointed.

The prince spent 10 minutes chatting to and quizzing these seniors. How lovely!

It was the first time the Prince had visited Castle View since he performed the home’s official opening in 2002.

The royal visit was all about the Poundbury development hitting the 20-year milestone and a visit to a block of seven self-contained flats for adults with learning disabilities, where he unveiled a plaque to mark its official opening.

But this royal visitor, who broke off for an unscheduled call, also brought a very special day into the lives of 20 or so elderly people, a priceless gift.

Activities organiser Sue Goodwin was reported as saying: “He stopped and spoke to everyone and asked about the home, how many residents we have and what sort of activities we get involved in. The residents were absolutely thrilled to be in the limelight. It created a lovely buzz.”

This bunch of sparky elders were determined to be heard and the prince gave them an audience. I’m thinking we may well be missing a trick here. We consistently battle to get our voice heard by government ministers . . . just maybe, we’re lobbying the wrong people.

For years I’ve been saying we need an advocate, a high-profile, respected individual who will fight our corner. I feel a letter coming on . . .

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