A COLCHESTER charity is set to continue a royal tradition as the King becomes its latest patron following in the footsteps of his late mother. 

Lepra was founded in 1924 and works to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate people who have leprosy, an infection that could lead to damage to nerves, skin and eyes.

The charity has been based in Colchester since 1974.

The relationship between Lepra, initially known as the British Empire Leprosy Relief Association, and the Royal Family dates back to 1924 when the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII, became patron.

This role was later adopted by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.

Queen Elizabeth's empathy for leprosy-stricken children in Nigeria, whom she encountered during a youthful visit to the country, cultivated a deep-rooted affiliation for the cause.

Throughout her patronage, she manifestly raised awareness for neglected tropical diseases like leprosy and lymphatic filariasis, and consistently challenged their perceived stigma.

Now King Charles III will follow in her footsteps. 

Earlier this month, in Lepra's centenary year, the charity received a letter from the Palace announcing the King would graciously perpetuate this tradition of royal patronage.

This symbolic gesture instills a powerful beacon of hope and solidarity for the people who rely on Lepra's support.

A statement from Buckingham Palace said: "Royal patronage highlights the vital work of these organisations and allows their many achievements and valuable contributions to society to be more widely recognised and promoted."

Jimmy Innes, Lepra chief executive, added: "His Majesty’s patronage will be a source of great motivation across the world for Lepra and will inspire us to keep delivering our vital work supporting people affected by leprosy and lymphatic filariasis.

"One hundred years on, we are thankful that the Royal Family continue to shine the brightest of lights on leprosy and LF, and we will continue to do all we can to live up to the honour."