Duchess of York visits Burnley

Published on Thu Dec 14 2023
Duchess of York with man in front of shelves full of food

Sarah, Duchess of York was in Burnley yesterday (Wed 13th December) to learn about how local people and organisations are working together to support each other. 

The Duchess spent the day discovering how communities are supporting those in need and helping them help themselves during the national cost-of-living crisis. 

Burnley Council leader Councillor Afrasiab Anwar said: “There’s a strong spirit of independence and resilience among local people and that’s really come to the fore as times have got tougher for everyone. 

“A massive amount of hard work goes on quietly and without fanfare behind closed doors thanks to the efforts of local people and organisations who are working closely together. 

“People all over the country are facing the same challenges as we have in our borough. I like to think that here, at least, it’s brought us together to help each other through tough times. 

“I’m sure the Duchess got an insight into that fantastic work during her day with us and she went away impressed with what she heard and saw.” 

Father Alex Frost, of St Matthew’s Church, Burnley, said: “”It was such a joy to welcome Sarah, Duchess of York during this time of Advent; particularly as her kindness through the generosity of her charity Sarah’s Trust has supported our church and community over a number of years.     

“By her visit and by showing love to the hundreds of people of Burnley, I pray it brings hope, joy and encouragement. It is also my hope this is just the beginning of a long a valued association between the Duchess and the town and that her visit was as joyous for her as it was for us.” 

Nicola Larnach, Burnley Together co-ordinator said: “It was brilliant to have the Duchess visit Down Town to learn more about the services we deliver that help people support themselves. She was very keen to know all about what we provide, from the community grocery through to the training kitchen, and café. 

“We were able to give her an insight into how partnership working, bringing different organisations and people together, can make a real positive difference to people’s lives and help them get through some really challenging times. 

“Down Town has proved a massive success and I’m certain the Duchess went away impressed by what she saw and heard.” 

The Duchess started her day at Padiham Green Primary School where she was welcomed by the school choir before joining the school’s breakfast club and handing out Christmas presents. She heard about the work of Padiham GP Dr James Fleming who started a fresh food initiative to promote healthy eating to the youngsters. 

From there the Duchess travelled to the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) School of Medicine at Victoria Mill, Burnley to learn more about how Burnley is the birthplace of primary care research. She met medical students who want to specialise in tackling motor neurone disease, a fight that is close to the Duchess’s heart.  

She was welcomed to UCLan by Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Cathy Jackson who said: “The Duchess learned about the pathways that UCLan has created for widening access to a medical degree and the part we are playing in educating the local community about health.” 

The Duchess then moved on to Burnley Football Club to learn about Burnley FC’s work in the community, and the Building Bridges in Burnley project, a partnership of faith organisations working to promote dialogue between communities and achieve equality and social justice. 

Down Town community shop, advice centre and community kitchen was the next stop where the Duchess toured the facility, learnt more about how the community kitchen works, and talked to families who have benefited from it. 

She sat down for lunch at St Matthew’s Church lunch club where the Duchess helped serve meals, met local families, and handed out Christmas presents. 

In the afternoon the Duchess visited Holy Trinity Primary School and met staff and pupils before spending time with the Right Reverend Philip North, Bishop of Blackburn (and former Bishop of Burnley) before moving on to her final visit of a very busy day at Ghausia Mosque where she met community leaders, Burnley Council leader Councillor Afrasiab Anwar, and representatives from Building Bridges. 

Post expires at 10:29am on Thursday March 14th, 2024