The Duchess of Northumberland lived up to her rock'n'roll image by arriving at an event on the back of a Harley Davidson motorbike and getting a tattoo.
Her Alnwick Gardens attraction was transformed at the weekend as bikers from around the region descended on the venue to back the Elderberries programme set up to help lonely and isolated elderly people in Northumberland.
The Duchess - who has spoken of her fascination with poisons and aphrodisiacs, and who serves a cocktail called the Dirty Jane at her Treehouse restaurant - got a tattoo at the event - albeit a temporary one.
Members of the Newcastle Harley-Davidson and Geordie Harley Owners Group Chapter joined the Duchess for the fundraising event on Saturday.
She said: “The Elderberries programme targets isolated and lonely older people offering fun and inspiring opportunities, such as learning, health, well-being and events.
“Harley Davidson’s involvement is important because it reminds people that age should be irrelevant if you want to experience something new. The Harley Davidson brand is timeless and it means as much to an 18-year-old, who might dream of owning one, as it does to an 80-year-old who might have memories of having owned one and that is unusual.
“Why shouldn’t an older person have access to the same things as someone who is younger? If older people want a temporary tattoo then it is our job to provide that service. I certainly enjoyed having mine done.”
The duchess’ message came just days after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it is a source of “national shame” that as many as 800,000 people in England are “chronically lonely”.
She added: “Northumberland is a rural area with an elderly, isolated population. We need to deal with this and work to improve the quality of life for the elderly in our region and that is what ‘Elderberries’ and our event today aims to address.”
The event, which was open to all makes of motorcycles and non-riders, saw a host of American-inspired live music from acoustic band Firelight Opera, rock band Zephyr, rock and ‘60s group The Wanderers as well as solo artist Scott Kiers.
Visitors without a motorcycle licence were also able to enjoy a test ride aboard the Jumpstart, which allows riders to experience the thrill of the Harley Davidson rumble beneath them and the wind in their hair while changing gears and revving the throttle.