Duchess of Cornwall visits rape crisis centre in Essex

The Duchess of Cornwall
Image caption The Duchess of Cornwall made four stops on her tour of Essex

A rape crisis centre in Essex has been visited by the Duchess of Cornwall.

Staff and users of the South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre (SERICC) in Grays met the duchess as part of her tour of the county.

She later performed the official opening of the Oakwood Place Essex Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) at Brentwood Community Hospital.

She also visited the Essex dog training centre and met staff and pupils at Writtle College.

SERRIC has, since 1984, provided counselling and support for women and girls aged 13 who have been victims of sexual abuse.

The duchess told people at the centre it was important to raise the profile of such projects.

'Very sympathetic'

She said: "I am incredibly impressed with how it's run talking to some of the users today.

"If it wasn't for the likes of you here, heaven knows what would have happened to them."

One of those helped by service, Sandra, said the duchess had been "very sympathetic".

"She seemed to understand how hard it is for women who have been abused to face their problems or issues," she said.

The duchess then flew by helicopter to Brentwood to open Oakwood Place, one of 29 sexual assault referral centres in the country.

Commissioned by Essex Police and NHS South West Essex, the service has sexual violence advisors and sexual health nurses on hand 24-hours a day.

The duchess stayed in the town to visit the Essex dog training centre, where she watched a performance by the Essex dog display team.

The royal visit ended at Writtle College where she met students and staff, including its assistant gardener Beryl Wyatt MBE, who has worked there for more than 40 years.

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