The Countess visited Penn School to open a new facility. Just a few years ago the insitution was faced with closure, but it has since fought its way back to success
Photo: Rex
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Sophie received a bouquet of flowers from one of the students who was there to greet her
Photo: Rex


1 MARCH 2006

Boys and girls at Penn Special Needs School in High Wycombe got a welcome break from their lessons this week when one of Britain's favourite royals came to pay them a visit. Sophie Wessex was looking radiant when she arrived at the institution to spend the afternoon chatting with the teachers and students who have made the facility, which was almost forced to close in 1998, a continuing success.

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The Countess, who was elegant in a brown wool coat with eye-catching silver brooch, took time to speak with as many of the brave youngsters as possible. Sophie is well-known for her commitment to helping people with physical and mental difficulties. Back in 2003 when she took her first tentative steps towards becoming a full-time working royal, she became patron to seven different charities all focused on supporting those with speech and communication problems.

Her husband Prince Edward often accompanies her on such visits, but on Tuesday afternoon he was tied up with other duties. Having recently become a patron of Windsor's annual festival, which will take place not far from High Wycombe, the Earl Of Wessex is busying himself with preparations for the forthcoming event celebrating his mother's 80th birthday.

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