Blackpool royal visit: Countess of Wessex reads the Talking Newspaper on trip to resort

The Countess of Wessex visited the Talking Newspaper
The Countess of Wessex visited the Talking Newspaper
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You’ve got the job if you want it, ma’am!

For one day only, the Talking Newspaper had a new recruit - by royal appointment.

The Countess gets a warm welcome from one of the guide dogs

The Countess gets a warm welcome from one of the guide dogs

Her Royal Highness Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, addressed listeners to N-Vision's newspaper for the blind, joining long standing volunteers Joy Killip and Helen Jones while editor in chief Johnny Gardener presided over the recording.

In her personal message to listeners, she spoke of her support for the sight loss community in general and her specific campaign to eradicate avoidable sight loss

Checking out the content of The Gazette, including recent reports on flooding on the Fylde coast, she said: “Local newspapers have such a crucial role to play.”

The Countess was in Blackpool to visit The Grand and the Blackpool Tower - both turning 125 this year - but N-Vision is only slightly younger at almost 120.

Chief executive Ruth Lambert, who asked the Countess to unveil a plaque in honour of the visit, said: “The Countess could not have been nicer. She is a natural. She was utterly charming, engaged and engaging.

"It was clear that she had a very real interest in what we are doing – right across the sight loss community of charities nationally and internationally. There couldn’t be a better ambassador.”

The Countess took time to speak to residents, staff, trustees and volunteers and two guide dogs - staff member Julie Barlow’s Jack and 16-year-old Anna Wignall’s Venice, who broke protocol by giving HRH enthusiastic doggy "kisses".

Julie said: “The Countess kissed Jack right back.”

Anna, who presented a posy to the Countess, said: “I thought she was lovely. She was very interested in what I had to say – and she was very funny about her own dog.”

The highlight of the tour, for many present, came when the Countess, escorted by vice chair of the board Barbara Whalley and Ms Lambert, stepped into a packed Sharples Hall to meet charity patron and newly retired consultant ophthalmologist at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Gez Naylor, board members, trustees, volunteers, staff members, supporters, fundraisers – and clients.