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Contributed by Jeanette Hilton

Head of Customer Services N-u-L Borough Council


On 21st September, HRH The Princess Royal visited Kidsgrove to view the facilities available and formally to open Newcastle Borough Council’s combined Customer Service Centre and Citizens Advice Bureau.

The Princess is very supportive of local community institutions and showed great interest in all aspects of how the Borough Council  work with partners for the community, and in particular our work with the CAB in her role as Patron of the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux.

HRH arrived at 3pm in wonderful sunshine to be greeted by local school children, residents and Civic dignitaries after which she spent an hour touring the facilities, meeting with staff and volunteers, through which I was particularly privileged to guide her.

A number of the Council’s partners, such as the Newcastle Housing Advisory Service, Registrars, NHS and the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) were available on the day to talk to the Princess about their activities at the Centre.

She then unveiled a plaque commemorating the visit and received a posy of flowers from the granddaughter of one of the CAB volunteers.

How important is a visit like this? It is difficult to quantify the importance to the local community in terms of the recognition and publicity for the area; the excitement, enthusiasm and involvement of the local schools; the community pride in residents attending the event; the pleasure shown by the centre’s partners (staff and volunteers) in explaining their services to the Princess.  

For me, visits like these cannot be measured in terms of success or analysis; they are unique and something of which we can all be proud.