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Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh joined the Duchess of Cornwall today to meet a selfless volunteer, and a group of guide dogs.

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The Duchess, who returned to public duties following a brief illness, and Walsh, who is currently a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, met Guide Dogs volunteer Madeline Mason, named as a Diamond Champion for her community work, and some of her four-legged friends being trained to help the visually impaired.

The royal could not resist giving the puppies invited to Clarence House a cuddle as she learnt about Mrs Mason’s work as a puppy walker - the first step in the training of a guide dog.

The royal reception had been planned for the beginning of the month but a severe ear infection and sinusitis forced the Duchess to cancel the event.

But despite telling one of the guests she was not completely well - “I’m sorry if I’m a bit deaf, I’ve got bad sinusitis problems,” the Duchess said, pointing to her right ear - she soldiered on.

The Duchess and the singer posed for a picture with one boisterous puppy, with Mrs Mason, 65, from Luton, in the middle holding Badger, a 15-week-old Labrador retriever.

Walsh, an ambassador for the Diamond Champions awards scheme that recognises the voluntary contributions of the over-60s, had the dog’s tail wagging close to her face and joked with The Duchess “you’ve got the best end” as the puppy gave the royal’s hand a lick.

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