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Camilla visits Eastbourne, Ditchling and Plumpton today
Updated 2:24pm Wednesday 26th March 2014 in News
WITH VIDEO: The Duchess of Cornwall praised the "wonderful, uplifting feeling" she gained as she officially opened the £11.5m St Wilfrid's Hospice in Eastbourne.
Camilla toured the bright, modern facilities at St Wilfrid's Hospice in Eastbourne, East Sussex, where she was serenaded by a 40-strong school choir.
Later, she visited Plumpton College's new wine research centre. Click on play below to see a video of her visit there.
At Eastbourne, she spoke to patients, staff and volunteers, visited the physiotherapy gym, and toured its 20-bed in-patient unit.
There she met prostate cancer sufferer Ray Boylan, 55, who recently re-married wife Lyn, 53, after they divorced and years later rekindled their love for each other.
On being told of their recent nuptials, Camilla remarked: "That's very nice. I feel as if I should have come with flowers or something."
The royal visitor, who grew up in Sussex, watched Val Herlihy, 69, as she used weights to build up her strength in the gym.
The Duchess went on to pick up one of the pink dumbbells Mrs Herlihy was using before telling her with a smile: "I think I'll hand that back to you."
Camilla then went on to watch Audrey Martin, 69, on an exercise bike.
Afterwards, Ms Martin said: "I joked to her that I was on my way to Brighton, and she said 'How far have you got?'
"It was nice to see her here. It's a fantastic place. Everyone is friendly and it's not the type of place that you don't want to come to."
The hospice was completed last August and saw patients move from its old base in Eastbourne in November.
Staff care for more than 1,000 ill people each year, and the hospice has provided services in the area for over 30 years.
All of the care at St Wilfrid's is free, but its £10,000-a-day running costs are only partially met by the NHS. The rest comes from donations.
After listening to a choir from independent Eastbourne College and meeting more staff and volunteers, Camilla spoke of her fondness for the hospice.
After unveiling a plaque, she told the gathering: "As a native of Sussex, it's always a real treat to come back here again, and especially to see this wonderful hospice.
"I would just like to congratulate everyone who was involved. It's the most wonderful place, with a wonderful, uplifting feeling, which is what all hospices should have."
Among the guests was BBC broadcaster David Dimbleby, a new patron of the hospice, who spoke afterwards about the change in how cancer is treated nowadays.
Mr Dimbleby, whose own father died from the disease in 1965, said: "Everything that is behind a wall is losing out because it's not connecting.
"The great thing about here is it connects - people feel part of what's going on. We are all going to die.
"There is no mystery behind it, and many of us die of cancer. My father died of cancer. Many people have got grandparents or parents with cancer.
"To have this change in the way in which it is treated from when my dad died in 1965 and now is just extraordinary.
"The word cancer wasn't used - the Big C. Now people talk about it. The thing is to make it part of all our lives and part of living and I think that's what this place achieves.
"It has just such a good atmosphere."
Camilla went on to sample a sparkling rose wine during a tour of Plumpton College, where she is a patron.
The college is the only higher education institution in Europe to offer degree courses in wine business and production.
Since being introduced in 1996, graduates have gone on to secure jobs as vineyard managers and wine-makers, and wine buyers and importers.
The college has recently expanded its Wine Education Centre, and built a wine research centre, enabling the college to now offer MA courses in Oenology (wine-making).
Camilla donned a white laboratory coat as she spoke to students about their courses, and saw vines being kept at different temperatures.
The Duchess, who is also patron of the UK Vineyards Association, went on to see the bottling plant before unveiling a plaque to mark her visit.
Camilla is also visiting the newly restored Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, reopened in September last year following a £2.3 million redevelopment.
It holds a nationally-important collection of works by artists and craftspeople, including Eric Gill, David Jones, Edward Johnston and Ethel Mairet.
Camilla will tour the museum, and meet staff, supporters and local schoolchildren who will take part in activities in its education space.
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