London: Princess Anne visits pastoral centre

 Princess Anne paid an unexpected visit to St Joseph's Pastoral Centre in Hendon, North London, recently. St Joseph's is a diocesan agency working with children and adults with learning and communication difficulties, their families and carers. The Princess toured the Arts and Spirituality Centre, where co-learners and students were at work painting, using computers, fashioning pottery and learning photography amongst other skills. Much of the work is on display and Her Royal Highness expressed great interest as she chatted to people. On the first floor parents and children, with and without learning difficulties, were gathered to have tea and meet the Princess. They came from all parts of the diocese for the occasion, accompanied by outreach volunteers for their locality. One family came originally from Ecuador and first sought help when they wanted their older son to be prepared for the sacrament of Holy Communion. Another family, with the help of their co-ordinator, brought their young daughter who uses a wheelchair, 'to see Princess Anne' and to meet old friends at the same time. Everyone was very impressed by the Representative Deputy Lieutenant's sword, which he allowed several youngsters to examine. Bishop Bernard Longley was present to represent the Diocese and Councillor Mrs Joan Scannell, as Mayor, represented the Borough of Barnet. A spokeswoman told ICN: "It was a wonderful afternoon which everyone enjoyed very much. We only learnt that Princess Anne was coming a few days before. Her visit was a wonderful treat." For more information about St Joseph's Pastoral Centre, visit their website at: http://www.stjoseph.org.uk