Duchess of Cornwall visits The Silver Line charity in Blackpool

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall
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The Duchess of Cornwall talked about the books she loved as a child with callers to The Silver Line charity at its HQ in Blackpool.

Camilla chatted amiably with a group of older people on one of the charity's regular conference calls - a sort of coffee morning over the phone for people living alone.

She joined in their conversation about their favourite books from their childhood, revealing that her favourite was Black Beauty, but that it always reduced her to tears as a girl.

She told them: "When I was young I really liked horses very much. If I wanted a real cry I would read Black Beauty. I could never finish it. I would read up until when Ginger died (one of the horse characters and a friend of Black Beauty) and cried so much I had to give up."

The Duchess, who is patron of the charity, was paying her first visit the The Silver Line's offices at Squires Gate in Blackpool, where 200 staff handle around 10,000 calls every week from people over 55.

She was given a tour of the offices and shown the telephone suite where more than 1.6 million calls have been taken since the charity was started by Dame Esther Rantzen in November 2013.

Dame Esther was there too, explaining how the charity came to be founded from her own experience of loneliness following the death of her husband Desmond Wilcox to provide a friendly voice as well as advice to older people who feel isolated and alone.

She said she was delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness to the offices to see the work the staff and thousands of volunteers do up and down the country.

She said: "We have a wonderful team here in Blackpool and wonderful volunteers or befrienders who give up their time to chat to people all over the country.

"Some of our callers do not speak to anyone else throughout the week. Particularly at Christmas people can feel isolated. I usually try to talk to about 30 people myself at this time of year, quite often they don't believe its me, they think its a hoax call! I spoke to one man at Christmas and then phoned again at New Year and he said I was the only person he had spoken to all that time."

The Duchess praised the team for the work they do and thanked them for the tour before she moved on to visit a charity in Preston.