PHOTOS: Hundreds flock to welcome royal visitors to Braunton
13:59 26 February 2013
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall spent more than hour meeting those involved in the flooding in December.
HUNDREDS of people lined the streets of Braunton this morning (Tuesday) to welcome the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
Prince Charles and Camilla specifically requested they visit the village as businesses continue to recover from the flooding in December.
They were given a tour of Caen Street, which at the peak of the flooding on December 22 was submerged under four ft of muddy water, before meeting residents, volunteers and emergency servicemen.
One of the businesses the royal visitors dropped into was the London Inn in Caen Street, which is still undergoing refurbishment after the flooding.
"Hopefully this will show that Braunton is getting there; we’re getting back on our feet and we’re open for business."
Landlord Mark Ridge only took over as landlord in May 2012 after the pub had undergone a £90,000 refit, and hoped they would be up and running again by mid-March.
He said: “Obviously the flooding has had a detrimental effect on the business and it’s not good, especially in the current economic climate.
“We were told to just leave the business as it is; so that they could see it as it is and not looking like a picture postcard.
“When you spend so much time grappling with insurance companies and then suddenly Prince Charles is taking an interest in the whole village and wants to spend him time to come and talk to people it’s great.”
The royal couple visited Braunton News, Mark Adams Opticians, the London Inn, Copy Catz and At One, and speaking to residents and school children waving flags and colourful home-made banners.
After speaking to business owners, the Prince and Duchess met more than 60 people in the Parish Hall who had been involved in the flooding somehow.
Jason Lovelock, of South Street, was one of the residents whose houses had been damaged in the flooding, and said he was honoured to meet the Prince and Duchess.
He said: “There was two foot of water coming through the door; we only had half an hour to try to move the office and my business stuff upstairs.
“There’s been true team spirit in the village and this has been great for morale.
“I never thought I would be meeting the future king of England, it’s been amazing.”
Business owners also spent time talking to the Prince and Duchess, among them was Sarah Kirby of Kittiwakes.
The shop in Caen Street only reopened on Saturday, and Sarah’s other business, Ruby Tuesday, is still undergoing refurbishment.
She said: “I know it’s not my home and it must be much worse when it’s your home that’s flooded but my businesses are an extension of me.
“It was absolutely heartbreaking to have to walk away watching the water pouring in through the door.
“Hopefully this will show that Braunton is getting there; we’re getting back on our feet and we’re open for business.”
Neil Blackburn, group commander for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, said the day of the floods had been an extremely busy one for fire crews around the area.
He said: “I think we were here pretty much for 36 hours from the time of the flooding.
“It was a very busy day for the service and awful for the village.”
Parish council chairman Liz Spear said: “We were worried after the flooding that a lot of these little shops which are local, independent traders wouldn’t be able to reopen.
“But pretty much all of them have now managed to open up or have an opening date set, and they were all out painting and working hard ahead of the royal visit.
“I think people are pleased that the Prince has taken the time to come down and shown concern over what has happened; it has certainly put Braunton on the map.”
The last official visit to North Devon made by Prince Charles was on May 28, 1992.
According to the Lord Lieutenants office, the Prince visited Ilfracombe and Braunton, although there may have been other private or Duchy visits since then.
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