“Good afternoon, I’m the Countess of Wessex and I’m visiting N-Vision today to meet clients, staff and volunteers to learn all about the services and support provide for local blind and partially sighted people.

I understand that the Talking News service is very important to all its listeners and each week keeps 258 of you up to date with national news and events and what’s happening in the local community.

I’m impressed that over 140 volunteers give up their time to prepare, record and dispatch the Talking News each week. Like most charities N-Vision depends on volunteers to support and enhance the work they do for their beneficiaries, so I wish to take this opportunity to thank them all on your behalf.

I am pleased to be contributing to the recording of the Talking News and I hope you enjoy listening to this edition. Thank you for this opportunity of speaking to you. Goodbye.”

You’ve got the job if you want it, ma’am!

N-Vision’s Talking Newspaper listeners are in for a treat – a new news reader joined the team … by Royal appointment. For one afternoon alone and big news in its own right.

HRH Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, took great pleasure in addressing subscribers to N-Vision’s Talking Newspaper, now 42 years old, after joining long standing volunteers Joy Killip and Helen Jones – while editor in chief Johnny Gardener presided over the recording.

The former top PR went off script to ‘tweak’ her own personal message to listeners, leaving them in no doubt of her support for the sight loss community in general and her specific campaign to eradicate avoidable sight loss – a labour of love.

What 250 listeners – via digital audio plug that will drop through their doors later this week – and several hundred more online will miss is the Countess’s more than passable attempt at a Brummy accent, inspired by some banter with easy-going Johnny and winning a eight out of 10 (for trying…) from him.

As news broke of the Royal’s visit to Blackpool, it looked for a while as if N-Vision, the Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Society for the Blind, was to be the Cinderella at the media ball – overshadowed by dowager attractions Blackpool Tower and the Grand Theatre both celebrating 125 years. Resort-based N-Visio, the Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Blind Society, is coming up to 120 years old itself.

On a dreary day weather-wise, Sophie Wessex brought her own brand of sunshine across the threshold of N-Vision, at Bosworth Place, Squires Gate, warming hearts with her unaffected style and empathy. She visited the Princess Alexandra Home, chatting to residents and joining in craft activities, before recording a piece for the Talking News, visiting the Low Vision Centre to check the latest in assistive tech and digital coaching for clients before doubling back to the charity’s social hub Sharples Hall to meet trustees, staff, volunteers, and clients.

Two guide dogs broke with protocol by stealing kisses – and one even got one back! Jack, admin office worker Julie Barlow’s guide dog, hasn’t washed his face since… Anna Wignall, 16, accompanied by guide dog Venice, presented a posy to the Countess, watched by proud mum Janet, a long standing volunteer at the charity, and was royally entertained by some anecdotes about the Countess’ own dog.

As CEO Ruth Lambert, who asked the Countess to unveil a plaque in honour of the visit, put it: “The Countess could not have been nicer. She is a natural. She was utterly charming, engaged and engaging. It was clear that she had a very real interest in what we are doing – right across the sight loss community of charities nationally and internationally. There couldn’t be a better ambassador.”