Her Royal Highness Princess Anne received a warm welcome from staff and service users at Forth Valley Sensory Centre (FVSC) yesterday as she arrived to officially open the facility’s new Kitchen Garden.
The Princess Royal was accompanied by Lord-Lieutenant of Stirling and Falkirk, Alan Simpson on the visit as well as other dignitaries including Falkirk Provost William Buchanan.
Falkirk Council’s chief executive Kenneth Lawrie and Divisional Superintendent Mark Lundie from Forth Valley Police greeted the princess too as did FVSC chairman Pat Reid, centre manager, Jacquie Winning, chief officer for Falkirk Health and Social Care Patricia Cassidy and British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter Andrew Dewey.
Her Royal Highness was introduced to centre staff and representatives from partner organisations such as Forth Environment Link, RNIB Scotland, Action on Hearing Loss Scotland and also met service users including members of a braile reading group who explained how they benefit individually from the services provided by FSVC.
The princess also also learned about other areas of the unique facility which was opened in 2006 to support people across the Forth Valley with sensory impairment difficulties as well as their families.
The Princess Royal was then shown around the FVSC resource area, Living Well Centre, Training Kitchen, Audiology Room, Sensory Room, Sign Language Interaction Office and Scottish War Blinded Office before being led out into the Kitchen Garden, a unique space specially created to help people of all ages with different disabilities learn about growing food and healthy eating.
The moment of the official opening of the Kitchen Garden was marked with Princess Anne unveiling a commemorative plaque. She was then presented with a specially upcycled wooden teapot bird feeder made by Revive Falkirk and a brailled card by sisters Maisie (7) and Nova (5) Sneddon who have both suffered from hearing difficulties.
Praising the work of staff and service users at FVSC, Princess Anne described the Kitchen Garden as “a very good addition to the excellent facilities currently offered at the centre.”
She added: “It is wonderful to see the facility so well supported. Congratulations to everything you have all achieved here.”
FVSC manager, Jacquie Winning said: “It was an honour to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to Falkirk and we were delighted she was able to officially unveil a plaque to commemorate the visit and the official opening of our Kitchen Garden.
“We hope this will become a fantastic community resource, introducing lots of people to gardening and fresh food as well as helping educate children about different senses and how to eat healthily. “Produce will also be used in our social enterprise café and cooking classes for people with sight loss, literally food will travel just a few metres from garden to fork.”
Chair of the FVSC Board, Pat Reid added: “The centre is a place of safety and security, offering vital services to vulnerable people of all ages. On behalf of all the centre users, the board, staff and volunteers, I would like to pass on our heartfelt thanks to HRH The Princess Royal for taking the time to visit us and find out more about our work and the impact it has on the local community.”