Four months after a tornado hit south Birmingham, Neil Connor was on hand to see the Duke of Edinburgh pay a visit to the suburb which bore the brunt of the freak weather...
Prince Philip was never going to turn up at the Lahore Karahi restaurant yesterday primed for a four-course feast of spiciness in Birmingham's famous balti belt.
Nevertheless, I don't think anyone expected him to be as speedy in his whirlwind visit to the city.
The Duke must have shaken about 60 hands in the space of 30 minutes, before he was taken across Ladypool Road to view some houses still cloaked in scaffolding as work continued on roofs, guttering and windows.
However, he did have a few nice things to say about the city, which included comparing the spirit displayed by the people of Birmingham in the aftermath of July's tornado to that of Londoners during the Blitz.
Prince Philip made the comparison to council-employed community workers who helped rebuild areas of Sparkbrook, Moseley, Balsall Heath and Kings Heath devastated by the freak storm.
During the visit he also spoke to community leaders, the city council's emergency planning team, and members of the emergency services.
After being met at the restaurant by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Coun John Hood (Con Sutton Vesey), he heard from residents about their experiences during the tornado.
He told a group of council staff that the community should be proud of its response to the tornado, which is estimated to have caused £25 million worth of damage to buildings.
Caroline Stewart, district services area manager at Birmingham City Council, said: "We had to accommodate thousands of people at very short notice and he was very interested in how people responded to this.
"He was talking about the spirit of people and how they were determined that their normal lifestyle had to continue through the difficulties.
"He compared the spirit of people to wartime in London."
The Duke heard how more than 1,000 trees were felled or badly damaged by the 130-mph twister and was also told about the damage caused to properties.
Rohan Green, who was an uninsured resident of Birchwood Close before his roof collapsed into his bedroom and living room, took the Duke on a stroll up his street, which is still being revamped by roofers and builders.
He said: "I did not show him my house but I took him to a lot of others which had considerable damage. He was quite shocked that many of the houses were still there."
Prince Philip also met West Midlands Fire Service firefighters, some of whom had worked in Sparkhill after the tornado and Pakistan following last month's earthquake.
West Midlands chief fire officer Frank Sheehan said: "When the Duke learned about the damage that had been caused he said he was relieved, amazed and grateful that no one was injured."
May Pearson, an 85-yearold Balsall Heath resident, told the Duke she had witnessed the previous tornado which hit Birmingham in 1931.
"He was very surprised when I told him the 1930s tornado had gone around the same route as the last one," she said. "However, it was not as bad as the latest one. Which was really quite scary."
On his departure from the restaurant, Prince Philip was handed a silver balti dish, a present from Ladypool Road traders.
Earlier in the day he visited the Birmingham and Midland Institute in Margaret Street, where he unveiled a plaque to commemorate the anniversary of the laying of the building's foundation stone by Prince Albert in 1885.