The Duchess of Edinburgh joined the volunteer team at The Lighthouse in Barnsbury and visited the Surrey History Centre in the same day.

The Lighthouse charity was hosting its weekly Tea & Cake for senior citizens, and participants were surprised and delighted to be greeted and served by the Duchess. 

The weekly event draws many local residents who find belonging, friendship and fun at The Lighthouse branch, located in the heart of the Barnsbury housing estate on the southside of Woking. 

The event on Wednesday, January 31 included tasty treats, a trivia quiz, knitting and vibrant conversation. 

The Duchess added much joy through her volunteering, serving tea and cake, playing quizmaster, and chatting with the guests. 

In addition, she helped to sort donations for the community fridge and joined in knitting the distinct woollen cosies that are used at The Lighthouse’s social enterprise coffeehouse, appropriately named The Cosy. 

Anna Wright, centre manager at The Lighthouse, Barnsbury, said: “It was a brilliant afternoon and a highlight at the start of this year for our little community. The Duchess made everyone feel so special, showing interest and care to our guests, and rolling up her sleeves with the volunteer team.”

 The Lighthouse buildings in central Woking and Barnsbury host a range of projects to support, encourage and empower those who find themselves in need or on the margins. 

The charity has around 300 volunteers, working together to tackle deprivation and isolation, transforming lives towards wellbeing, independence and hope. 

The Lighthouse includes well-known services like the Woking Foodbank and the Jigsaw baby bank, as well as a clothing bank, debt advice, cooking classes, creative workshops, The Cosy social enterprise coffeehouse, and much more.   

In her visit to the Surrey History Centre in Goldsworth Road, Woking, the Duchess toured the extensive heritage services and met the staff and volunteers. 

The Duchess was shown treasures from the centre’s collections, including a signed letter by Lady Jane Grey, a Tudor swan roll, photographs and papers relating to the Surrey regiments on the Western Front, early Surrey maps and a rare 18th-century handwritten Qur’an.  

On a behind-the-scenes tour, the Duchess was shown how the collections are stored, conserved and protected for future generations and how members of the public are using the collections today. She spoke to searchroom users, volunteers and staff members who told of the current projects they are working on. 

Surrey County Archaeological Unit staff explained their work at Ankerwycke Priory and West Horsley Place alongside their mounted display of archaeological finds from recent excavations at these sites.  The Duchess met local volunteers who work on community archaeology projects. 

Mike Page, county archivist, thanked the Duchess for visiting to learn more about the range of innovative work delivered by the centre with the help of its expert staff, volunteers and strong local partnerships. 

The Duchess was accompanied on her tour of the centre by county and borough councillor Saj Hussain.

Cllr Hussain said: “It was an honour to meet Her Royal Highness on her visit and to discover more myself about some of the most fascinating records held here.  

‘‘The centre welcomes everyone who wishes to find out more about Surrey’s heritage. If you haven’t visited yet, then do see the website for opening times and all the great services they offer.”

For more information on the Surrey History Centre, call 01483 518737 or email shs@sur

There is more inforation about the work The Lighthouse, including its refugee support hub, on its website