Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of Carers Trust, attended a conference at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre, Ditchingham in Norfolk on Wednesday 17th April 2013 to celebrate the First Anniversary of Crossroads Care East Anglia.   The one-day conference, which involved around 75 delegates including 45 carers, discussed the information, support and access needs of carers throughout East Anglia. There are 7 million carers across the UK and 180,369[1] live in East Anglia. The aim of the conference was to demonstrate how Crossroad Care East Anglia and Carers Trust are working hard, locally and nationally, to make each carer count.

When Her Royal Highness arrived, Mr Peter Richardson, Director, Carers Trust presented Dr Elizabeth Challis JP, Chair of Crossroads Care East Anglia and Mrs Brenda Bond, Chief Executive, Crossroads Care East Anglia.

Accompanied by Dr Challis and Mrs Bond, Her Royal Highness met groups of carers and discussed issues relating to their caring role. She had the opportunity to meet five young carers who were  planning how to raise awareness of young carers’ needs in schools. She also met with professionals from the area and local Carers Trust Network Partners.

After the formal welcome and speech in the Main Conference room by Dr Challis, Her Royal Highness was invited to address the conference.

Before Her Royal Highness departed Mrs Erica Strange, Conference Centre Manager invited Her Royal Highness to sign the visitor’s book. 

Dr Challis said, “Caring can be an extremely isolating experience with the potential for carers becoming depressed, tired and anxious.  It is a tremendous boost that Her Royal Highness has devoted so much time and energy championing the cause of unpaid carers and we are delighted that she joined us for our First Anniversary Celebrations.”

Mrs Brenda Bond added, “The visit of Her Royal Highness was the highlight of our conference.  She is extremely knowledgeable about carers’ issues and was able to hear more about the ongoing support that will make a difference to their lives.”

Accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Mr Richard Jewson JP, Her Royal Highness also met the High Sheriff of Norfolk, Sarah, Countess of Leicester; Chairman of South Norfolk Council, Councillor Bob McClenning; Chairman of Norfolk County Council, Mr Ian Monson; Mr Peter Richardson, Director, Carers Trust and Mrs Erica Strange, Conference Centre Manager.

After Her Royal Highness had departed, delegates took part in workshops and guest speakers covered a range of subjects relevant to carers’ issues. One of the speakers was Lucy Hawking, daughter of scientist Stephen Hawking.  Having grown up with a profoundly disabled parent, Lucy is acutely aware of the challenges of caring as she has been a carer in one form or another all her life. Lucy also has another link with caring as her only son, William, is autistic.  A working single parent for the past decade, Lucy faces the same issues experienced by most parents with young people with special needs in their care. Her talk, “There is no I in care,” focused on the challenges of maintaining your own identity when you are a carer.

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