The hardships faced by local farmers during the severe weather conditions in March were recognised by the Prince of Wales during his visit to Larne.
Larne Borough Council hosted a special reception in the Town Hall, giving those people affected by the harsh weather an opportunity to speak directly to HRH about their experiences during the heaviest snowfall in generations.
The royal visitor, who has a keen interest in agricultural issues, listened intently as farmers recounted how they had been cut off by huge snow drifts and left with no power or supplies for days.
But Prince Charles was heartened to learn of the response to the crisis on the part of Larne Council, the local community and other agencies, including the PSNI, Northern Ireland Electricity, Roads Service and The British Red Cross.
Speaking at the reception, the Prince said he admired “the continued resilience” of the local farming community and paid tribute to the various agencies involved in the emergency response effort.
He added: “You had an incredibly difficult time in March and without the council and other people getting together and giving up their precious time to act as a team and provide help and support, the situation would have been much more difficult.
“All of you who are producing food are doing a very important job.”
Following the event, Mayor of Larne Maureen Morrow spoke of her pride at hosting such a prestigious guest: “We have been deeply honoured by this visit.
“It is a great morale boost for the local farming community and for farmers from other areas who endured the worst weather challenges in living memory as they coped with damage to farm buildings and loss of livestock.
“During the emergency as power supplies were cut dozens of citizens living on high ground were isolated due to heavy snowfalls and drifting. Here in Larne dozens of elderly people were provided with assistance by council staff working in partnership with the community and other local agencies, and I was delighted so many were represented at this event.
“The overall response demonstrated the true spirit of the people of Larne and their willingness to reach out to neighbours in need.
“We are very proud of the community and its efforts and honoured that the importance of our farming community has been specially recognised by this royal visit.”
A number of those involved in the emergency response were recognised at the reception, including local PSNI Constable Colin Ferguson, Joanne McKenna from the British Red Cross, Deidre Mackle from Roads Service and several others.
During his visit, Prince Charles was also updated on the progress of the Glenarm regeneration project, which he has been involved in through the Prince’s Trust.