His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester KG GVCO visited a Cumbrian farm devastated by flooding, to see for himself how the community is recovering from the terrible storms that struck the region at the turn of the year.
HRH was met by Lord-Lieutenant Claire Hensman at Low Bridge End Farm, St John’s-in-the-Vale, Keswick on April 27 – home to Graham and Sarah Chaplin-Brice (pictured below with HRH) and their four children. Mr and Mrs Chaplin-Brice led HRH and other invited guests on a tour of their livestock farm, so they could see the after-effects of Storm Desmond more than four months on.
The Chaplin-Brice family farm is downstream of Thirlmere Reservoir. They keep sheep, chickens, geese and a small goat herd, also running a tea room for walkers during the warmer months and renting out a camping barn to holiday-makers. They have an on-farm classroom for educational trips.
On December 5, Storm Desmond left no part of their land untouched, causing an estimated £200,000 worth of damage. They managed to let the sheep out onto the hillside, but lost poultry. In addition, a main access bridge was destroyed, 1.5km of fence flattened or washed away and 100m of stone walling collapsed. Around 400m of river bank eroded, with land waterlogged and large silage bales washed onto land from upstream. More than 6,000 tonnes of gravel was dumped across 20 acres of grassland. They were forced to cancel bookings for the camping barn.
Joining HRH on the farm tour were David Hall (Regional NFU Director), Jenny Willis (County Advisor for the NFU) and representatives from the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I), Chris Riddle (Chairman), Malcolm Thomas (Vice-Chairman) and Georgina Lamb (Regional Manager for the North West).
Following the farm visit, HRH moved on to the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, where he was introduced to Keswick Mayor and Chairman of the Museum and Gallery, Paul Titley and Curator Sue Mackay. He met further representatives of R.A.B.I, including Patricia Turnbull (Chairman of the Cumbrian Committee), Laura Wilson (Vice-Chairman of the Cumbrian Committee) and Jackie Clegg (Regional Welfare Officer). Also present were Reverend Chris Blackshaw and representatives of the Cumbria Farmer Networks and Barclays Bank.
The royal party spent around half-an-hour learning more about the museum and art gallery and its vital role within the heart of the Keswick community.
R.A.B.I North West Regional Manager Georgina Lamb, pictured above with HRH, said: “HRH The Duke of Gloucester takes a genuine interest in farming and we were able to provide him with a rounded view of the issues farming people in Cumbria are facing. The floods might have subsided, but the problems have not gone away. There are many ongoing challenges and it’s only now that people can get back onto the land to assess how they begin the long road to recovery.”