THE people of Ilfracombe were a little surprised on Thursday to discover a prince in their midst. The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, flew into town for a low key and relatively informal visit at the invitation of the Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, Eric Dancer.

THE people of Ilfracombe were a little surprised on Thursday to discover a prince in their midst.The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, flew into town for a low key and relatively informal visit at the invitation of the Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, Eric Dancer.The aim of the whistle stop tour was to see how community based projects and various agencies were making a big difference in helping to regenerate and improve smaller towns and villages.He first visited the Ilfracombe Centre where he met local councillors and officers, going on to call in at Chas N Pedlar in the High Street, meeting proprietor Nick Pedlar before calling in at the Baptist Church opposite.The tour continued with visits to Cow Green Community Garden, Alban House residential care home, the police station and Ilfracombe Junior School, where he received an enthusiastic welcome and sat down with pupils youngsters and staff for lunch.After lunch a crowd of well-wishers was waiting to greet him at the harbour, where he made a tour of Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station, meeting RNLI crew members, volunteers and supporters.Then the Earl met members of Ilfracombe Youth Canoe Club to celebrate award of a £3,000 Grassroots Grant from the Devon Community Foundation charity, which has assisted numerous small projects in the town and across Devon.See the paper on Wednesday this week (November 26) for pictures.