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The Prince of Wales visits the Ayrshire Hospice and surprises guests during a tea dance at Dumfries House in Scotland

21st December 2016

The Prince of Wales surprises guests during a tea dance at Dumfries House in Scotland

The Prince of Wales surprises guests during a tea dance at Dumfries House in Scotland

The Duke of Rothesay, as The Prince of Wales is known when in Scotland, visited The Ayrshire Hospice in Ayr today before surprising guests during a tea dance at Dumfries House. 

The Duke began the day by meeting patients and staff at the hospice, an independent charity which cares for people with incurable illnesses such as cancer, neurological conditions, end stage heart failure and lung disease.

HRH joins a painting class during his visit to the Ayrshire Hospice

HRH joins a painting class during his visit to the Ayrshire Hospice

His Royal Highness toured the facility and joined in an art therapy class before presenting the hospice with a special gift - a chocolate model of The Duke’s house in Gloucestershire.

The cake included chocolate figures of Their Royal Highnesses, as well as The Prince of Wales's feathers and the gardens of the home.

The Duke told staff, patients and volunteers at The Ayrshire Hospice that he was "interested to see who does the first demolition job" on the cake.

In return for his gift, His Royal Highness was presented with a hand-painted scarf for The Duchess of Cornwall and a box of toys for his grandchildren.

About 185 staff and more than 600 volunteers work at the hospice to provide care at no cost to the patients or their families.

Before leaving, The Duke unveiled a plaque marking his visit.

His Royal Highness said: "This is a splendid hospice and having met some of you I can tell you that I'm so full of admiration for the love and care in this place.

"It clearly makes a huge difference to so many and I hope it goes from strength to strength."

Later, The Duke surprised guests by turning up to the Dumfries House Tea Dance, an event set up by the charity in partnership with East Ayrshire Council's Vibrant Communities Group to tackle isolation amongst older people.

His Royal Highness arrived in the pavilion with "Santa" and chatted to those in attendance as they danced to Christmas music.

A group welcomed The Duke as he entered the dance floor - led by 80-year-old Mary Dornan.

Mary, from New Cumnock, hugged His Royal Highness and later said: "I was shaking when I saw him. I write to all the Royals and asked him if he'd mind a wee cuddle.

"He said 'of course', but I turned it into a long one."

Those at the dance, many of whom live in sheltered housing and care homes, were bussed to the venue from nearby towns and villages.

The oldest person at the event, 94-year-old Grace Harrison, said they had not been told The Duke of Rothesay was coming and described it as "a lovely Christmas present".