Royal visitor makes it a day at Denny

Princess Anne chats to locals at Strathcarron Hospice.
Princess Anne chats to locals at Strathcarron Hospice.

Staff, patients and guests gathered in the sun for a “flying” visit by Princess Anne this week.

Not that the Princess Royal’s walkabout at Strathcarron Hospice on Tuesday afternoon was a quick affair - the frequent visitor arrived by helicopter and spent over an hour-and-a-half touring the famous Fankerton facility, talking to staff and patients.

The hospice provides care for people with life-limiting illnesses, helping hundreds of people each year in the hospice itself, the local community, hospitals and other care settings.

Princess Anne has been visiting the hospice since it opened 30 years ago and her dedication to the facility is evident - earning her the title of “the Hospice visitor”.

On Tuesday, the sun, which had blazed away at the start of proceedings, disappeared behind clouds - but the assembled guests’ day brightened considerably when the princess, who was wearing a royal blue dress with matching shoes and her Strathcarron brooch, emerged from the hospice and started chatting easily with the crowds on the way back to her helicopter.

Falkirk Depute Provost Allyson Black had taken the train down from Pitlochry, where she was enjoying a holiday, to meet the princess.

She said: “She always looks fantastic, but I thought she looked especially lovely today.”

And one lady observed: “She’s so unassuming - she chats away to you as if she just met you on the street.”

Princess Anne certainly had a lot of people to chat to this year - with a mass of hospice volunteers and fundraisers taking the golden opportunity to meet royalty.

Providing services at Strathcarron costs over £4.6 million a year and although almost half this cost is covered by NHS Scotland, the hospice still needs to raise around £60,000 a week and that’s where the generous donations and fundraising efforts of people from all over Central Scotland come in.

Young Beth Ironside (10), of Braehead Primary School in Stirling, was just one of the fundraisers who met the princess - she had intended to swim 30 lengths of her local pool to raise cash, but ended up doing 64 to coin in an impressive £317.

John Watson of Twechar, in East Dunbartonshire, has been raising money for the hospice for the last 15 years through the Kilsyth and District Dominoes League.

Closer to home, Glenwood Tenants Association for Stoneywood and Fankerton, the ladies of Tulliallan and Kincardine Church Guild, and Stenhousemuir residents Ann Reid, Dorothy George, Nan Jenkins - represented by daughter Susan - James Sharp, Dorothy Sharp, Rona Torrance and little Molly Egan (7) were also invited to attend for their commitment to collecting cash for the hospice.

The facility also relies on people like Willie Harrower from Alva. A former Strathcarron patient, Willie now gives his time back to the hospice by helping out in any way he can.

These are the people who appreciate the Princess Royal’s repeated visits most and must have felt their efforts had been well rewarded as she soared away in the royal helicopter just before 6 p.m.