Volunteers are so vital, Duchess tells charity - VISIT PICTURES

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VOLUNTEERS and staff at a Sheffield advice centre received Royal praise from the Duchess of Cornwall - who said they are doing a “fantastic job”.

The Foxhill and Parson Cross Advice Service provides help with welfare benefit, housing advice, debt, consumer and employment issues, and deals with over 2,000 people every year.

The Duchess of Cornwall visits volunteers and staff at the Parson Cross Advice Service on Wordsworth Avenue

The Duchess of Cornwall visits volunteers and staff at the Parson Cross Advice Service on Wordsworth Avenue

Camilla talked about the charity’s efforts, telling workers: “Thank goodness for volunteers.”

The Duchess added: “They are so important - without people like you to turn to for advice they wouldn’t know where to begin.”

She also unveiled a plaque and was presented with a posy of flowers by seven-year-old Elsie Howard, daughter of volunteer Sarah Howard.

Camilla also met the charity’s oldest volunteer, Miriam Beresford, aged 70, who has worked at the advice service for 15 years.

“I didn’t think she would come to anywhere like this - I was shocked to meet her,” said Miriam afterwards.

Last year the advice service represented 44 clients at county court housing repossession hearings - winning all but three cases - and brought in £1.8 million in unclaimed benefit and debt write-offs.

Manager Joanne Abdulla said the visit was a “fantastic honour and privilege”.

“Beforehand I was really nervous but it wasn’t nerve-wracking at all,” she said. “She really put us at ease and seemed really interested in our debt advice service.

“The Duchess coming will raise our profile and more people will realise we are a charity - we do rely on people’s donations.”

One person with a perfect view of Camilla’s arrival was one-year-old Alfie Belcher, who watched the proceedings from his garden wall next door to the advice centre.

Camilla even stopped to shake the hand of the little Royal watcher.

Alfie’s mum Julie Belcher, 36, said: “I’ll tell him about this when he’s older. It was absolutely brilliant - it’s a one-off, it’ll never happen again.”

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