PRINCESS Anne visited Sussex to celebrate special anniversaries at a church and coastguard station.

The Princess Royal landed in her helicopter in Newhaven for the 900th anniversary of St Michael’s Church and the 15th anniversary of the town’s National Coastwatch Institution before heading to Shoreham Airport to visit a sword company.

Stephanie Coussement saw the helicopter land opposite her house.

Stephanie said: “My girlfriend and I live right next to the park and heard a really loud helicopter.

“It’s not rare as we hear a lot of coastguard around, but when it got super loud we looked out and saw it land right next to our window.

“It was amazing. I looked it up and found out it was the Queen’s Helicopter.

“I then went outside and saw Princess Anne leave in a Range Rover.

“She drove by a couple more times and then left again at around 12.30.”

The Argus:

The Princess is believed to be the first Royal to visit the church since it was built by the Normans.

An earlier visit by the Princess in April had to be postponed because of lockdown, and St Michael’s was delighted when it was announced that she would be returning in September. Held under strict Covid guidelines with everyone, including Her Royal Highness, wearing masks, it was a day of celebration after months of anniversary events having to be cancelled.

Sun streamed through the open doors of St Michael’s as Princess Anne arrived, wearing a primrose yellow jacket over a floral dress.

She was accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field and was welcomed by Bishop Bill Musk, who chairs the 2020 Celebrations committee.

The Argus:

For the next forty minutes she met and chatted to the people of St Michael’s and was able to hear about their work both in the church and the community.

One of the high spots of her visit was the chance to hear extracts from Mike Flood’s specially composed musical – 900 Years: A Journey Through Time. A CD of the music was among the gifts presented to Her Royal Highness in a traditional Sussex trug. Also in the trug was a posy of locally grown flowers and a copy of the book – St Michael’s 900 Years – which traces the history of the church, the town and its people.

Princess Anne was also presented with a specially commissioned brooch made by local jeweller and seventh generation goldsmith, Mike Shorer. The intricate triangular design, which features Her Royal Highness’s birthstone Peridot, also includes a piece of flint from the church wall.

Although, as Mike explained, some people who watched him chipping away at the flint, wondered why he wanted “bits of the church”.

Before leaving, Her Royal Highness congratulated St Michael’s on its 900th anniversary . It was lovely, she said, to be part of such an ancient church history and tradition and yet, in this modern world, to find creative ways of using modern technology to sustain services.

The Argus:

Among those who met with HRH at the coastguard station was David Crozier, Station manager and National Trustee of the NCI.

David said: “After the two previous visits were cancelled we had our fingers crossed nothing would go wrong this time and luckily nothing did.

“HRH was very knowledgeable and interested in all watchkeepers.”

HRH Princess Anne has been a patron of the National Coastwatch Institution since 2017.

Mr Crozier was among those to receive a Long Service Award for 10 years of service, 7 of which have been spent as the Station Manager at Newhaven.

He said that The Princess Royal’s passion for the coastguard was clear.

Mr Crozier told The Argus: “The Princess works tirelessly to promote our work.

“She was charming, relaxed and knowledgeable.

“It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.”