HRH visited Vispring, Headway Devon & Two Moors Festival’s performance of Tarka the Otter

With apologies for delay with this post, but yesterday I was late from work, very late indeed and nothing was shared about HRH’s engagements until today. On top of that there was a state event with tiaras, so, I’m sure you’ll understand 🙂 The Countess was sadly missed, but she had prior commitment, however we have seen Prince Edward. More in my post here.
I think we should start petition, so every state banquet would get such coverage as yesterday’s. Who’s with me?! 🙂 But back to HRH!

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. The arrival of HRH with David Fursdon, Lord Lieutenant of Devon.

Yesterday The Countess visited Devon with three engagements. HRH travelled by helicopter, which landed on the pitch of Bar Sol Ona FC. Parkway Sports and Social Club was delighted to welcome the Royal helicopter and the Countess of Wessex to Plymouth. Article here.
via Bar Sol Ona FC Facebook feed.

First, The Countess visited Vispring on Ernesettle Lane in Plymouth. The Countess of Wessex enjoyed a tour of Vispring’s factory and met many of its master craftsmen before officially opening the company’s new showroom.
courtesy of Vispring.

Vispring is a bed company founded in 1901 in Plymouth, marketing bespoke, handmade beds of natural materials, such as wool, cotton, horsehair, coir, silk, cashmere, mohair and alpaca fleece rather than synthetic materials and foam.
courtesy of Vispring.

As active supporters of the Campaign for Wool, both Her Royal Highness and Vispring are passionate about the use of British wool. Vispring is proud to use more Platinum Certified pure British fleece wool than any other bed maker in the world and the factory team were able to show The Countess of Wessex exactly how the precious fibre is used within Vispring’s luxurious beds. Chris Harrison, Vispring’s Operations Director, explained the benefits of using wool for bed making, before Kevin Webb, who has worked in the natural fillings section for more than 15 years, explained how he creates unique blends of materials to generously hand-fill Vispring’s mattresses.
courtesy of Vispring.

As a major local employer, Vispring was also keen to highlight its apprenticeship program and commitment to ensuring that its specialist bed-making skills are passed on to future generations. Vispring’s Training coordinator, Jenny Lambert, explained the company’s training initiatives before its newest recruit, Radoslav Grudlev, demonstrated how to side-stitch a mattress by hand.  Her Royal Highness then took the opportunity to try her own hand at side-stitching.
courtesy of Vispring.

Vispring’s Managing Director, Mike Meehan, commented: “We are very grateful to The Countess of Wessex for taking the time to visit our factory. We are devoted to using only the finest natural materials and highest standards of craftsmanship to make our bespoke beds and mattresses, so it has been a great honour to have the opportunity to show Her Royal Highness the process first hand.” For full article about HRH’s visit click here, photo gallery is here.

Afterwards, HRH visited Headway Devon, The XCentre. Headway Devon is a local charity dedicated to improving life after brain injury, which  provides essential services across Devon and Torbay for people with acquired brain injuries, their families and carers.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. HRH’s arrival.

During the visit, The Countess of Wessex toured the XCentre – which is the headquarters of Headway Devon as well as the charity’s Exeter-based day centre for people with brain injuries – speaking to people affected by brain injuries and supporters of the charity.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. Anne Mattock (Chief Executive) introduces the work of Headway to HRH.

Earlier this year and following a two-year fundraising appeal Headway Devon successfully purchased the XCentre, a sympathetic conversion of the city’s old wool-drying shed.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. HRH Discussing Cognitive rehabilitation therapy, L to R: David Doe (volunteer), Natalie Clapshaw (Exeter Centre Manager).

While touring the centre, Her Royal Highness was able to take part in a range of activities offered by Headway which are aimed at helping people with brain injuries to relearn lost skills and improve their quality of life. Included amongst these activities was cognitive rehabilitation therapy, where The Countess of Wessex tried her hand at exercises developed to improve thinking skills like memory and concentration, and a Devon cream tea with scones baked by the clients of Headway Devon during the afternoon.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. HRH with Keith Foote (client and Trustee), Amanda Braggins (South Devon Centre Manager)

Her Royal Highness was also shown a spinning activity where clients of the charity were being taught how to make alpaca wool into yarn, drawing together the important role that the XCentre played in the city’s wool-trade in the 18th century and Headway’s focus on art and craft activities as a means of therapy and rehabilitation for those who have sustained brain injury.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. L to R: HRH the Countess of Wessex, Jeremy Andrews (client), Sarah Walker (client), and Amanda Braggins (South Devon Centre Manager)

Those involved in the event said they were really looking forward to meeting The Countess of Wessex and clients and family members had travelled from across Devon and Torbay to be present for the occasion.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. Client John Wood shows HRH a CV that he has been working on at Headway.

Following the visit, Headway Devon Chief Executive Anne Mattock said, “We were really pleased with how the event went. To have The Countess of Wessex here was a great validation of the important work that we do in the local community“.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. HRH finds out about the use of IT at Headway from clients John Wood (front) and Richard Battishill (back).

Our clients thoroughly enjoyed meeting Her Royal Highness, who showed a real interest in their stories and experiences, taking the time to speak to each person individually. It was a very positive experience for us all and we were touched by her understanding and compassion“.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. HRH speaks to Headway Devon Community support clients.

Headway Devon has been supporting people across Devon and Torbay for twenty years, and we now support over 200 people every week, but despite that there are still a lot of people who haven’t heard of us. This visit has really thrown a spotlight on our work and is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness about brain injury and the specialist support that we provide to those who need it.”

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. HRH with a posy presented by Headway client Marilyn Dingle-Shevlin (assisted by Community Support Services Manager, Myra Heno)

HRH has said: “I think so often people say things that they don’t really mean, and a lot of people don’t understand and they don’t know what to ask about a brain injury. It is not the first time I have visited a Headway charity, each client is different and they have different hopes and aspirations. Headway is a great organisation and it is shame as we live in a judgemental world where people tend to judge on appearances. Our society is full of different people which make our society a fantastic one. Thank you all for having me, I know I have overrun but it’s your fault, thanks for doing such a wonderful job and behalf of all the clients’ thanks for having me today.” More in this article.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. Headway Trustee Chris Thorne thanks HRH for her visit.

Headway Devon’s mission is to ensure that when a person’s life is turned upside down by brain injury, they get the help and support they need and deserve. Brain injury has many causes but some of the most common are head injury, stroke, brain tumour, and illnesses like meningitis.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. HRH speaks to Heaaway trustees.

Headway Devon are the local acquired brain injury specialists who we have been providing services for people with brain injuries for over 15 years. They support people with brain injuries to come to terms with what has happened and overcome their disabilities, as well as providing support and advice to their families and carers and training and information for local professionals.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon. HRH speaks to family members and carers.

After witnessing some of the activities Her Royal Highness unveiled a plaque to mark the visit and was presented with a posy by Marilyn Dingle-Shevlin, a long-standing client and supporter of Headway Devon. HRH also signed visitor’s guestbook. Very quick video can be found here. Back in 2014, HRH visted Headway, Brain Injury Association in Ipswich. Post here.

© Rufus Nobbins Photography courtesy of Headway Devon.

In the evening, as Patron of The Two Moors Festival, attended a performance of Tarka the Otter at Exeter Cathedral in Exeter, Devon.
© Matt Round Photography – picture posted with kind permission from photographer.

Tarka the Otter, based on Henry Williamson’s classic, tells the life cycle of an otter whose habitat is two rivers, the Taw and Torridge, together with their surrounding areas in North Devon. The story narrates the life of an otter from cubhood to adult and finally to death by hounds.
via Maynard School‘s Facebook feed

Tarka the Otter: the opera was originally commissioned by John and Penny Adie of The Two Moors Festival and premiered at Rosemoor RHS Garden, Torrington in 2006. This year, as part of celebrations of the Two Moors Festival’s 15th anniversary, Tarka the opera was brought back once more. It was composed by Stephen McNeff and directed by Thomas Guthrie.
© Matt Round Photography – picture posted with kind permission from photographer.

Part of the original idea of putting on such an opera was to involve the local communities as much as possible. Consequently, many children from local schools (including Maynard School) took to the stage as ducks and eels. Gallery can be found here.

Here’s what Penny Adie (co-founder of the festival), wrote in her blog about The Countess of Wessex and The Two Moors Festival 15th Anniversary: “I’m sure many of you will know already that the festival’s Patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex celebrates her 50th birthday this week. This is so exciting for her and we all hope that she has a wonderful time. She is marvelously supportive of the festival and we couldn’t be more fortunate to have such a generous and kind-hearted person looking after us. We are always astonished by how much she fits in on a visit to Devon. On the last occasion, she included four engagements in one day; the first, we believe, in Bristol and the last in Exeter for the festival’s production of ‘Noye’s Fludde’. With travel time from her home near Guildford to take into account, it was a long day with a punishing schedule. Anyone who says that the Royal Family lead an easy life should think again, for we know hard the Countess works – always smiling, always chatting to people and having the ability to make each person feel special”. For full blog entry, click here.

Outfit & jewellery:
Issa, Bay Knitted Dress with matching Mills Knitted Cardigan in rose pink.
Clutch by Sophie Habsburg Design in Ginny Style.
GIANVITO ROSSI Bari 85 patent-leather court shoes in pale pink.
New earrings for HRH, I cannot be certain but they look bespoke and handmade.

5 thoughts on “HRH visited Vispring, Headway Devon & Two Moors Festival’s performance of Tarka the Otter

  1. Anonymous

    Anna: I noticed Prince Edward at the dinner and did not see the Countess–thought I had just missed her and thought to myself… I must ask Anna today whether the Countess was present–well, you heard me Anna and answered my question. Thank you.

    Knits have taken on new importance this season in fashion –they are quite popular. The Countess's choices are just the type I would chose for myself. Love the two-piece and neutral color –such a versatile choice for one's closet–one can always mix match with other pieces and colors.

    All the best and keep up the good work.


  2. Anonymous

    During the build up to the State Dinner, there was much speculation, as to which tiara the Duchess would wear. Which would indicate, that she has more access and choice than Sophie ! Although we have seen Sophie in a few tiaras, the most recent being the one she wore at Prince Carl Philips wedding in June, it's a shame that she too, doesn't seem to have as much access to the numerous tiaras in the HM 'vault' She has certainly earned the privilege, of at least having more of a choice !


  3. hmm, i'm not a fan of knits. i think you have to be very slender and fit to wear it well. i like the color and style of sophie's outfit, but i think she looks better in structured outfits.

    and yes we need more coverage of gala events, and sophie's events specifically!


  4. Molly

    Sadly it's not about earning the privilege, it's to do with position. Kate is higher up than Sophie and always will be, hence why she has the choice of more tiara's as she's more “important”, even though Sophie is the monarch's daughter-in-law. Sophie has 3 tiara's to choose from, as far as we know, which isn't bad for someone married to the 9th in line to the throne. Sophie is more likely to wear bracelets, necklaces and brooches from the Queen's collection as opposed to tiara's. Her wedding gift of a brooch from the Queen Mother is beautiful.


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