HRH 1Eyewitness report from Tim Harrold

On Wednesday 29 January 2014, the Duke & Duchess of Cornwall visited the borough.

The purpose for their journey to Thurrock was to see the High House Production Park at Purfleet. HRH The Prince of Wales is a patron of the Royal Opera House, which has its Production Workshop there.

Charles and Camilla flew in by helicopter and landed in a field in Aveley. They were then driven by motorcade to Purfleet.

They were introduced to local dignitaries in the High House Barns’ function rooms, politicians and those in management with the various stakeholding interests at the park. Some of the artists who have studios at the High House Artists Studios were also introduced to the royal visitors. These were Thurrock residents sculptor Lata Upadhyaya and mother and duaghter team Sue & Heidi Cooper; and painter and 3D collager Anna Masters, who heralds from Otford near Sevenoaks.

Charles and Camilla were then shown the National Skills’ Academy Backstage Centre where they were treated to some live performances by young people learning all the necessary backstage skils of the enterainment industry.

HRH 2After that, they went inside the Royal Opera House Bob & Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop to look around at all the activity there.

Finally, walking along the south side of the park, they arrived at the High House Artists’ Studios, where they were received by performance artist Aaron Williamson and sculptor Phillip Melling.

This is a significant event in Thurrock’s history – perhaps not quite as historic as Elizabeth I’s rousing “I have the heart of a King” speech to troops amassed at Tilbury awaiting the threatened Spanish Armada’s invasion which never came, but on a par with our own Queen’s visit to Grays and the Thameside Complex in the early 80s and more recently Prince Andrew’s time with the Tilbury Sea Cadets. Whatever, it puts Thurrock on the map, and raises the profile of a borough deemed by the 2011 Wellbring Survey as apparently the place where people most least likely want to live across the whole of the UK.

There is a well at the High House Production Park, which was once a farm farmed by the well known local farming family the Vellacotts. A big family, most, if not all, of them were Christians attending locally churches and having a huge, positive influence over the land and in people’s lives. They were also known for their creativity and are still remembered by many older residents of Purfleet, Aveley, South Ockendon and West Thurrock today.

HRH 3Although the family have long left the area, their legacy remains. Land that was once tilled for produce is now a Production Park. A family once known for their creativity now have artists and artisans working on what was their farm land. And if the Creator created his creations to be creative, then the well of creativity has been opened to pour out re-creational activity across our borough!

Prince Charles’ visit is a ‘picture’ of the Prince of Peace visiting Thurrock, unstopping the wells not just of creativity but of revelation, salvation, healing, and the redemption that comes as the Kingdom comes.

Photos from a film by Tim Harrold taken from the stairwell of the Artists’ Studios.

The film (which is rivetingly exciting) can be seen here: – Camilla’s under the transparent umbrella and Charles can be recognised by his bald patch…

For YourThurrock’s report and video see: