Guide puppy Badger is stroked by The Duchess of Cornwall and Kimberley Walsh with Diamond Champion volunteer Madeline Mason (centre) who was nominated because of her work with as a volunteer with Guide Dogs
The Duchess of Cornwall thanked a host of celebrities for their support of a volunteering project today, with television presenter Phillip Schofield remarking that volunteering was now "sexy" thanks to the thousands of people who volunteered at the Olympics and Paralympics.
The Duchess welcomed Schofield, Strictly Come Dancing contestant Kimberley Walsh, Keeping Up Appearances star Patricia Routledge, veteran journalist Kate Adie, television presenter Gloria Hunniford, agony aunt Denise Robertson and broadcaster Roy Noble to Clarence House to thank them for their work as Diamond Champions ambassadors.
The famous faces have got behind the Diamond Champions volunteering programme, run by older people's charity WRVS, which recognises the contribution people over the age of 60 make through volunteering.
Her Royal Highness, a patron of WRVS' search for hard-working volunteers, was due to perform her duties alone, but guests were surprised to see that she was joined in the Garden Room by The Prince of Wales, and the couple mingled with their guests.
Speaking at the event, Schofield said: "You could say that there are many charities for younger people and there are many events, but this is that nod and a thank you to people who are over the age of 60 who have maybe a little more time on their hands and the ability and the wisdom to get involved, and people who are beginning to think 'Oh, I might give that a go' because of the wave of volunteers we had at the Olympics this summer.
"Suddenly being a volunteer is not as dull as it appeared before. It's a sexy thing now.
"The volunteers in the Olympics got one of the biggest cheers in the stadium.
"It doesn't have to be dull and worthy. What it can be is great fun."
Routledge, famous for her role as Mrs Bucket, is part of a judging panel that will whittle down 4,573 volunteers - aged from 60 to 103 - to 480 Diamond Champions, who will then be invited to eight regional events before a select few will meet The Prince and Duchess at St James's Palace in November.
Verity Haines, executive director for marketing and development at WRVS, said: "We are very grateful to our Diamond Champions ambassadors who share our desire to thank the many unsung heroes who make a difference to their local community through volunteering.
"Their support has helped WRVS promote the awards and the response from the public and the charity sector has been excellent.
"We have been delighted by the number of nominations we received."