THE Duchess of Kent spoke with flood-hit traders and residents in York city centre today.

Arranged by the Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, the private event took in the Merchant Adventurers' Hall and Navigation Road.

It was designed to encourage small businesses and residents as they recover from the floods.

The Duchess, who born at Hovingham Hall in Ryedale and married at York Minster, was keen to offer her support and praise the clean-up effort.

On being greeted by Lord Mayor Sonja Crisp, she said: "Thank you so much, it's a real privilege to be here."

The Duchess asked about the extent of flooding and said: "What was the first thing you did?"

Cllr Crisp replied: "The first thing was that everybody rushed to help each other."

The Merchant Adventurers' Hall was badly hit by flooding and volunteers were still mopping mud off the floor as the Duchess visited, creating a poignant scene.

Contractors are due to decontaminate the building, which has already been powerwashed, on Friday.

Martyn Weller, chairman of the York branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, was representing his members at the event.

He said: "We have got 800 members in York and 3,000 across North Yorkshire.

"Often the aftermath is the part where people lose trade significantly because of the perception that everything is still under water and remains so for months to come.

"It can have the effect of discouraging people coming to York.

"There are still some businesses that will take get open again, but there are a lot that are open.

"The best way people can help is by coming and spending some money here."

The Duchess went on to visit Tadcaster this afternoon where she continued to meet residents and businesses affected as well as members of the emergency services, volunteers and council staff who helped to deal with the floods.

She said: “Wherever I have lived in the world my heart has and always will remain in the wonderful county of North Yorkshire.

"I feel really sad about the effect the flooding is having on the people, homes and businesses of this beautiful city and county." 

The Duchess was accompanied by her nephew, Deputy Lord-Lieutenant Sir William Worsley of Hovingham Hall, who on this occasion represented the Lord- Lieutenant, Barry Dodd CBE.

York Press:

John Hodgson, Selby highways maintenance manager for North Yorkshire County Council explains the impact of flood water on Tadcaster bridge to the Duchess of Kent along with far left, Paul Lewis, Selby highways inspector and (left to right) her nephew Sir William Worsley; Cllr Donald Bain-Mackay, Mayor of Tadcaster Town Council; Mary Weastall, Selby District Council Chief Executive; Cllr Richard Sweeting, Chairman of Selby District Council and Cllr David Jeffels, County Council Chairman. Photo: North Yorkshire County Council