The Duchess of Cornwall proved that age is no barrier to learning new tricks today – whether that be dancing or even a little sanding, no less.
Camilla was on a day of engagements in Banbury, Oxfordshire, when she gamely took part in an international dance class in her role as President of the Royal Voluntary Service.
After watching the group, led by Avis Gallager, 72, demonstrate a nifty little number entitled Blackpool Bell, Camilla, also 72, was invited to try her hand at an Israeli circle dance, Zemer Atik.
Camilla then showed off her royal moves as she took part in an International dance class – led by teachers Avis Gallager and Joan Sprittlehouse
Camilla, 72, donned a chic blue tweed suit with an elegant scarf worn around her neck as she arrived in Banbury today
Wryly raising an eyebrow, the royal laughed and said: ‘Nothing ventured and all that…’ She enthusiastically clapped and waved her hands and followed the ladies as they walked round in a circle, jokily muttering to the media: ‘Don’t put me off!’
Avis declared later that Camilla has been a ‘brilliant sport’.
She has been involved in the classes since 2004 and explained that they were a lifeline for many older people, particularly those who have lost their partners, for fun, friendship and companionship, as well as keeping fit.
The oldest dancer was Joan Gottowik, a still youthful 92, who declared it the ‘highlight of my week’.
‘It was wonderful that the duchess took part. Dancing has been brilliant for me, it gets me out from those four walls and keeps me fit.
She was in high spirits as she greeted Catherine Johnstone, the CEO of the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS)
Camilla added a pair of pearl earrings and carried her belongings in a black handbag during the visit
She went on to meet the centre’s staff and volunteer groups, including their youngest volunteers; Amelia, seven, and Bobby, five
Camilla danced alongside those who regularly meet up at the day centre for its various activities including games and quizzes
RVS works to provide help and support for volunteers in hospitals and small community-driven organisations across the UK
This place is a lifeline for many older people round here,’ she said. The Royal Voluntary Service is one of the largest volunteering organisations in the country to date, inspiring and enabling over 3 million people to give their time to help others to meet the needs of the day.
Nearly 20,000 volunteers a year already give their skills, experience, and time to help people in the community and in hospitals.
The Duchess of Cornwall has been President of the RVS since 2012 and is a passionate believer in ‘active ageing’, encouraging older people to get involved with a variety of community initiatives.
The Duchess, who is RVS’ president, beamed as she arrived at the Cornhill Centre in a pair of knee-high black suede boots
She was greeted at the centre with bouquets of flowers as people lined the streets outside ahead of her arrival
The Cornhill Centre is one of the charity’s community hubs; offering a café and day centre which features games and quizzes
As she left Camilla passed the adjacent garden which will soon evolve into the ‘Banbury as an Age Friendly Town’ (BAFT) Project Garden. She was then gifted an Age Friendly brooch
Camilla chatted to volunteers about the work they did with the centre, and how it benefited those who would otherwise struggle to socialise
The Duchess got fully involved in the centre’s activities as she danced alongside both volunteers and regular attendees
Later Camilla visited Second Time Around, a furniture store and tearoom, which provides opportunities to promote work, social inclusion and independence for adults with learning disabilities.
It sells antiques and reconditioned furniture, lovingly refurbished by the young men and women who work and volunteer there, and Camilla, who has a keen eye for a bargained, couldn’t resist browsing and picking up an armful of gifts for her children and grandchildren.
‘What a wonderful idea this this is,’ she told project manager Nathan Wallis, ‘you need hours to go round this place. It’s my idea of heaven. I am definitely going to nip back privately and have a good snoop around.’
She grinned as she joined a circle and moved along to the music in the centre’s main hall during the visit
The group were all smiles as they posed alongside the Duchess during her short visit to the community centre
Tea and coffee was served at the centre, allowing some participants to take a seat while others enjoyed the dance class
More than two dozen staff and volunteers gathered for a photograph with Camilla during her morning with them
Camilla greeted staff at the Royal Voluntary Service at the Cornhill Centre during her visit to Banbury
In the workshop she was shown the ropes by David Wallington, who has worked at the shop for around five years and was sanding down the legs to a table.
‘You’ll have to show me what to do. I’m not very good at this,’ she warned, before picking up her sander with remarkable gusto.
‘Just like that? Let’s both do it together. You are going a lot faster than me. You’ve obviously got the experience. ‘This could be my new career…..yes, I think that’s suitably sanded now!’
The group danced the morning away as they displayed their best moved during the royal visit
The dancers walked in a circle and clapped their hands to each side during a morning of high-spirited entertainment
Turning to reporters she remarked: ‘There’s nothing I can’t turn my hand to!’
Before she left Camilla enjoyed a cup of tea in the Curiositeas Coffee Shop with some of the team.
Asked whether she would be tempted to dance again, Camilla laughed and demurred, saying: ‘I think I’ve done my dancing for one day!’