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"I had the most bizarre email a few months ago - could I call the Office of the Lord Lieutenant of Devon? Could I call them on a matter of utmost delicacy? Hmmm, surely I'm not the only one in that situation to think that I'd done something wrong and was in deep trouble? Luckily, I got over my old stuff and took the plunge, pausing only to wonder what business a naval officer could possible want with Devon Rape Crisis.

My, I've learned a lot since May.....

Firstly, that the Lord Lieutenant is the Queen's representative in Devon (maybe everyone else has always known this?)

Secondly, that his office organises royal visits, including for HRH The Duchess of Cornwall

Thirdly, that it takes a lot of work to arrange a royal visit ........., guest lists, invitations, itinerary's, pen portraits, refreshments, media management, briefings (internal and external), Police liaison and office tidying. And ours was a low key, private visit!

But we're not complaining - anything but. It was a huge honour to host a visit from Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall and we were all very touched by her desire to meet with us. Because most visits like this are low-key, it is not well known that HRH has a particular interest in the support offered to women who have experienced sexual violence and has visited a number of Rape Crisis centres across the UK. This interest and commitment was very evident from how HRH both approached the visit and engaged with us on the day. The first part of her hour with us involved a private meeting with two of our service users and this was a warm and emotional time which left them all feeling very touched. The Duchess of Cornwall continued to show her knowledge of the issues as she moved around our offices, talking with patrons, trustees, volunteers, staff and our specially invited guests. Everyone who met her was struck by her warmth, humanity and sensitivity and it was a real pleasure to have such a committed visitor to our organisation.

This was a highly significant visit for DRCS. We are only just two years old; solid but not yet totally established, operating well but without secure, sustainable funding. To be the recipients of such an important and high profile visit really is testament to everyone who is (and has been) involved in setting the organisation up. Onwards and upwards ..............."

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