TWENTY-five years after she opened Walford Mill at Wimborne, the Duchess of Gloucester returned to celebrate its silver anniversary.

Unveiling a wooden plaque made by fellow Dane and exhibition co-ordinator Karen Hansen, she told her hosts she was delighted to be back at the picturesque centre for contemporary British art and design.

“She said she did remember coming here,” said Christine Fletcher-Jones, chief executive of the Walford Mill Education Trust.

The Duchess stayed for an hour at the waterside mill, whose main building is believed to date from around 1760.

“She said she had a wonderful time and could have stayed a lot longer. She thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Christine.

The Duchess met a group of eight youngsters from Allenbourn Middle School before dropping in on the Women Work in Wood exhibition and exchanging a few words in Danish with Karen.

She was thrilled to receive silk scarves as a gift from resident weaver Debby Kirby and bought some of her work for Christmas presents.

She met Liz Cox who helped with disability access to the mill and architect Adam Zombory-Moldovan, and heard about plans for a bridge and £3m new building.

She also met youngsters from Wimborne First School and Queen Elizabeth’s School.

Then it was on to the YMCA’s Stourvale Centre in Southbourne, Bournemouth, where the Duchess toured the new building before unveiling a plaque to officially open it.

While at the centre, the Duchess met children and their parents in the children’s centre; and volunteers and young people in the youth area, used during the day to mentor and guide young people excluded from school, and in the evening as a youth club.

At King’s Park Nursery, also in Bournemouth, the Duchess met pupils from King’s Park Primary School and Linwood School and nursery staff as she toured the allotment project and viewed the new biomass boiler, which turns green waste into energy.

The project, set up four years ago, provides a plot to grow the fresh fruit and vegetables used by King’s Park Infants School.

The food is prepared by people with disabilities at Wallisdown Heights Day Centre.