Charles toasts 'Cumbria, open for business' after floods devastation

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The Prince of Wales raised a glass of Guinness and declared Cumbria "open for business" as he returned to the county three months after the devastating floods of Storm Desmond.

At the Sun Inn pub in Pooley Bridge, Charles lifted his half-pint and said: "I wish you all a very good fortune - here's to Cumbria, open for business."

He was visiting the village whose 250-year-old bridge was completely destroyed in December's floods, leaving the popular tourist spot cut in half. 

He heard how the historic Grade I-listed structure across the River Eamont was washed away during storms as he met contractors who have installed a temporary bridge which was officially opened on Sunday. 

The Sun Inn's landlords, John and Jane McGuire, said they had prepared some Cumberland ale and a cup of Earl Grey tea but when offered a choice the Prince opted for a half of Guinness. 

Speaking afterwards, Mr McGuire said: "I lined up three halves of Cumberland so he could select which one he wanted. He said 'Which one do you suggest?' and then said 'Well, I would quite like a Guinness'. He had a couple of sips." 

Mrs McGuire joked that Charles even used their facilities, adding: "That's our claim to fame now!"

From there the Prince walked about 100 yards to the temporary road and foot bridge which has finally allowed the two sides of the village to be reconnected. 

Miles MacInnes, chairman of the parish council, said: "It's been absolutely marvellous because we have had a very difficult three months. The village has been like a ghost town. To have the bridge open we suddenly had people here again and after Prince Charles' visit we now have a spring in our step."

While the bridge was closed, the community faced long diversions, but the new bridge has allowed easy onward travel to other parts of Ullswater and the wider Lake District.

Earlier, Charles met students at Ullswater Community College in Penrith, which serves the largest catchment area in England.

Pupils aged 14 to 18 are able to take advantage of a range of vocational training opportunities at the school, which has developed a close relationship with The Prince's Teaching Institute.

Since 2010 students have honed their skills with a choice of specialist facilities including a motor engineering garage, a hair and beauty salon and workshops for plumbing, joinery and bricklaying.

Local firms and organisations have also provided stone for a dry stone walling course, vintage tractors for an agricultural engineering course and building materials for a construction course.

Charles was given a guided tour of the college's Applied Learning Centre by headteacher Nigel Pattinson before he was treated to a display by the college's award-winning UCC Wolves cheerleading team and a performance of Joseph And The Technicolour Dreamcoat by its music and drama group.

The Prince was particularly impressed with the energetic performance of the cheerleaders.

After he unveiled a plaque to mark his visit, he said: "It's been a great privilege just to have this brief glimpse of the school.

"I am so impressed to see all your vocational training opportunities and the huge difference I am sure that must make in the long run in providing people with that all-important alternative to the academic side.

"And, if I may say so, I was hugely impressed by the performances I have just seen."

He quipped: "I quickly note the cheerleaders. How you managed to get it past health and safety...?

"And the quality of the singing and the orchestra was terrific.

"I am thrilled to see just how much talent and real potential there is in Penrith and round about."

Charles received rapturous applause from the pupils in the playground as he departed for his next visit to Pooley Bridge.