THE Prince of Wales was given a handmade gift to indulge his passion for gardening during his visit to the region yesterday.

Prince Charles visited several farms in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, as part of his Business in the Community programme.

While at Grange Farm, in Levisham, the Prince, who began the Mutton Renaissance Campaign in 2004, tucked into mutton stew prepared by Yorkshire celebrity chef Brian Turner.

He also met farmers and business leaders at Hill Top Farm, Spaunton, near Helmsley.

During the visit the prince visited several workshops and businesses, including Yorkshire Organic Millers' flour mill.

But it was during his trip to a garden tool workshop at the farm that he was given his gift.

Farm owner Philip Trevelyan said: "We presented him with a fork we made at Hill Top Farm at The Lazy Dog Tool Company.

"I jokingly said 'That'll probably not get much use' and he said 'you may be surprised'.

"The whole day was a lovely success and he had a great discussion about the state of British farming."

Later, the Prince was in Harrogate to reopen the town's historic Royal Hall, which has undergone a £10.7m transformation.

Built in 1906, it was originally a kursaal, which is German for "cure hall", or spa, and it is the only one remaining in the country.

The Prince switched on the lights outside the hall and went inside for a tour and to meet those involved in restoration.

He joined an audience of invited guests for a concert by the Trewit Youth Band and the St Aidan's School Chamber Choir, with soloists Emma Whiteley, 16, and William Dutton, 12.

Later, the prince was thanked for his support during an address by Lilian Mina, chairwoman of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust.

Her efforts were recognised in the New Year's honours list, when she received an MBE.

During his speech, Prince Charles, who is patron of the charity, said: "As patron of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust, I cannot possibly begin to tell you how thrilled I am to be here today with all of you to see for myself the complete transformation that has been brought about in this magnificent building.

"I came here in July 2006 to see it for myself and, while there was obviously a certain amount of activity, enthusiasm and vision all over the place, it was little more than a shell and it took a certain amount of imagination to appreciate what it had been and what it could become again.

"When I stood on that stage 18 months ago, I likened the Royal Hall to a somewhat elegant old lady who had fallen on hard times, but, as I look now, I see she has been taken back in time to the beauty and splendour of her youth."