A VISIT FROM PRINCESS DIANA
On this day in 1985, Princess Diana visited Ravenswood Village in Berkshire. She opened a rose garden made possible by donations. The Princess arrived by helicopter and later talked to the children and teachers. Ravenswood Village is for the mentally handicapped.
“One of the great things about Diana’s work, quite apart from the immediate benefit to the charities she supported, was that she really put the spotlight on charities,” said Hazel Kaye, Chief Executive of Jewish Blind & Disabled, which immediately after Diana’s death named a fragrance garden in memory. She added: “The impact she made was enormous, and her loss is still felt today by the charity sector.”
When the Princess of Wales visited Ravenswood in 1985 to open the new rose garden, she arrived by helicopter. She also signed a book recording the planting of the garden’s first rose in honour of the birth of Prince Harry.
“It was an incredibly exciting day,” Mrs Brier remembers. “Princess Diana looked so glamorous and she walked around talking to everybody. “We were so impressed with her love of the residents, with her immediate understanding of their problems and her willingness to stay longer than her allotted time with some of the children.”
Ravenswood’s then honorary chaplain, Reverend Reuben Turner, watched his daughter, Sarah, a Ravenswood resident seen in the second photo from the top of this page, present the Princess with a sculptured rose. “I remember she stayed for two-and-a-half hours. The pilot kept phoning to say it was time to go but the princess insisted on visiting each home.
“My daughter was very excited to be presenting the gift. She curtseyed and they exchanged a few words. Sarah was very taken with her and they seemed to get on very well together. For me it was a very emotional and proud moment – one I’ll never forget.”
The day after the visit, Ravenswood received a letter from Buckingham Palace saying how touched the princess had been by the wonderful atmosphere created by the dedicated staff.