PRINCE Charles yesterday praised volunteers for keeping the Peak District National Park ‘magical’ in a Royal finale to the park authority’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
The Prince of Wales made a rare public speech while visiting Haddon Hall, near Bakewell, to see restoration work at the medieval estate and meet volunteers for the Peak District National Park.
He told volunteers at a reception: “It’s an incredibly special part of the world, the Peak District, and I can’t tell you how much I like any opportunity to come here and just enjoy the magic of the landscape.
“I have also felt the magic of this house, the way it sits in with the landscape.
“Thank you for all your efforts, I’m thrilled to be able to join you to celebrate your 60th year, your Diamond Jubilee, and long may you continue the marvellous things you do.
“I hope you recruit many more volunteers for the future.”
One volunteer ranger, Ian Milne, was presented with a special plaque recognising his 50 years of service as a volunteer ranger with the Peak park.
The 70-year-old has fought moors fires, seen outbreaks of foot and mouth, and was a founder member of the Edale Mountain Rescue Team.
He was wished ‘many congratulations’ by the prince as he handed over the plaque.
Ian said: “It was sensational to speak to him.
“We were talking about all kinds of things. One was how there are lots of people that get lost on Kinder Scout and you’ve got people walking there with high heels on which come off!
“I was saying you often find the shoe but wonder where the person is.
“He was highly amused by that.”
Before the Royal reception Prince Charles - who flew in by helicopter - toured the gardens of Haddon Hall to see restoration work to the River Wye and walls of the chapel.
Clad in a camel overcoat, he spoke with joiners Peter Dobbin and Kieran Wint who had remade a 19th century bench after finding a photograph in the hall.
Peter, 30, of South Wingfield, said: “He didn’t sit on the bench but it was just nice to have it appreciated. He was very easy to talk to.”
Excited staff were waiting around the hall to meet the prince, and revealed frantic preparations had been made.
Hall manager Janet Blackburn said: “We’ve all been practising our curtsies for about a week now!
“The prince asked where the daffodils had come from which are around the house and we had to confess we’d bought some in.
“He said to me the preparations for him coming must have been quite frantic as the house is closed for the winter.
“It’s such a kudos for us to have a Royal visit.”
Prince Charles had also visited businesses Bombardier Transportation and Rolls Royce in Derby yesterday.
It is understood he was going to Chatsworth House, to see his friends the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, before leaving Derbyshire.