The Prince of Wales has brought some much needed Christmas cheer to flooded out homeowners on a trip to Cumbria.
The royal visitor saw for himself the devastation wreaked by Storm Desmond earlier this month as Dorothy and David Richardson, both aged 72, showed him around the downstairs of their home on Warwick Road in Carlisle.
The neat three bed semi, flooded for the third time as the storm hit, was left under more than two feet of water.
It means the couple will not be home for Christmas – it will be September until their house of almost 50 years is habitable again.
Accompanied by four of their grandchildren, Matthew, 18, Lucy, 14, Molly, 11 and Henry, aged eight, they showed Charles the holes in the bare floorboards of their now empty downstairs living rooms and kitchen, still drying out until the flooring and plaster can be replaced.
Mrs Richardson told Charles the warnings of flooding meant many possessions were saved by being taken upstairs before water came through the floor and doors – but the TV and other furniture were ruined.
The retired nurse said: “It feels a bit surreal really, but it’s very kind of him to come and think about us. He has a special feeling about Cumbria.”
Mr Richardson added: “Lovely to see him. He had no reason to come had he? But to climb in his helicopter and what have you and the cars.
“He’s very easy to speak to and very interesting.”
Granddaughter Lucy added: “He was very genuine by coming up and helping out with other people’s losses.”
Mrs Richardson said the couple bought the house for £2,400 in 1966 when the couple were married – then were flooded for the first time two years later, then again in 2005 when four foot of water engulfed their home – and again in December.
The couple are now living with their daughter, Joanne Routledge, in the village of Scotby nearby – who will be hosting Christmas dinner for 12 this year.
One “silver lining” to the affair is that the daughter’s husband, Brian Routledge, owns a skip business – which are much in need as yellow skips are now scattered up and down streets and roads across the city.
Next door the front garden of Keith Wright’s house resembled a scrap yard – mainly the wreckage of a £20,000 brand new kitchen fitted in his house – a week before the floods hit.
Holding his dog, Buster, a two-year-old Pomeranian Chihuahua cross, Mr Wright, 62, who runs a home care agency business with wife Brenda, 42, met and spoke to Charles.
Mr Wright said: “I thought he appeared very very genuine. I’m a monarchist but he did appear genuine. I’m told possibly he could not get here because of the weather but he really, really wanted to come.
“He was just very apologetic and just hoping things were going to work out for the future.
“I’m quite an optimistic person by heart. My wife is very upset.”
The couple are currently living in a hotel but move into rented property next week.
They will eat their Christmas Dinner at a local Premier Inn.