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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 August, 2004, 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK
Royal visit boosts village morale
By Jenny Matthews
BBC News Online in Boscastle

Prince Charles' visit to Boscastle came as residents were starting to absorb the true cost of Monday's catastrophic floods.

Prince Charles said the emergency services had been
Prince Charles said the emergency services had been "amazing"
As he arrived, the rain fell again and the thunder rolled, giving the village a gloomy and despondent air, despite the determined calm and resilience of the residents.

Many householders have still not been allowed back into their ruined homes.

Others have only been allowed in briefly to pick up urgently needed possessions, and even those who escaped the worst damage are still coping without electricity or drinking water and with closed roads.

The prince spent about 40 minutes viewing the havoc wreaked by the floods and speaking to residents and members of the emergency services.

He picked his way through the worst hit harbour area, still a devastated field of mud, debris and battered cars, and he ventured inside the Cobweb Inn, one of the pubs which, although still standing, was severely damaged.

I think it's very right and proper; after all, he is the Duke of Cornwall and if somebody who is in a position like that shows an interest in the area, has a look round, cheers people up, it's good
Mary Sharpe, Boscastle resident

He had wanted to come because he was "extremely shocked" by the destruction he saw on the news, his spokeswoman said.

Afterwards, he said he was "absolutely horrified" by the devastation.

Prince Charles paid tribute not only to the professional emergency services but also the numerous volunteers for the "admirable" way they had been helping the victims.

He was clearly struck, as others have been, at the way in which the community has been pulling together, from putting the homeless up in their houses to helping people clean out their sodden homes and baking Cornish pasties in the school hall.

They were "selfless and remarkable", the prince said.

His visit did seem to be quietly appreciated by many Boscastle residents.

Police are continuing to search debris for possible casualties
Police are continuing to search debris for possible casualties

Mary Sharpe, 70, who had just returned from collecting two bags of possessions but is still not able to return to live in her home, said the visit was "a good thing".

"I think it's very right and proper; after all, he is the Duke of Cornwall and if somebody who is in a position like that shows an interest in the area, has a look round, cheers people up, it's good."

Local MP Paul Tyler said the whole area was feeling "a bit battered" and the visit would help boost morale. "It's appreciated that people are coming to see us and take an interest. That's not a problem," he said.

However, he added: "The problem comes in two months, three months, eight months time - have we got the community back in order again so we can welcome the kind of people we want to welcome here."

Local councillor Janey Comber, who represents Boscastle but lives in nearby Crackington, agreed.

The problem comes in two months, three months, eight months time - have we got the community back in order again so we can welcome the kind of people we want to welcome here
Paul Tyler MP

"It's important to show people you care and to see it for yourself."

However, her own village had also suffered in the floods, with its beach, two of its houses and numerous cars washed away and at least two people airlifted from their homes. Yet Crackington had received none of the attention focused on Boscastle.

"We do feel a little bit neglected I must say," she said.

Other residents, mindful of the practical help their village requires, were more sceptical about what the royal visit would achieve. More welcome was the prince's pledge of a donation from the Duchy of Cornwall Benevolent Fund.

"Actions speak louder than words," said Veronica Anscombe, who was herself caught up in the floods, although her home was unscathed.

"Rather than just come here and have his photo taken or speaking to people, it would be more use if he could give some money and help those villagers below," she said.

"Because what's happened here has been devastating, just devastating."


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Colette Hume
"The Prince broke off his annual holiday to the Scottish Highlands to visit Boscastle"



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