27 April 2021
Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge came to our community centre to meet our project members and learn about our project. They met many of our amazing members, joined in with our fun and social activities, learnt about the project, discussed with our members who had completed their DofE awards and heard some of our interesting stories in our community garden at Belmont. They even had the chance to play golf with our members. An unforgettable and spectacular day for both our staff and members and the Duke and Duchess themselves.
We had the incredible opportunity of meeting Prince William and Katherine as they visited the North East 2 days before their 10th Wedding Anniversary. This would not have been possible without our Manager Erika who kept it all a secret and planned such a wonderful event. This was our first large group event for over a year, since March 2020 when the country went into a national lockdown for Covid-19. Our staff and members had not met up in such a large group for well over a year so it was such a great surprise and a huge moral boost for the entire project. This unforgettable opportunity would not have been possible without the Durham Boys and Girls Association and The Key Fund who chose our charity organisation to take part in such a special greeting with the Cambridge Royals.
Erika greeted the Duke and Duchess and brought them around to our community garden, located at Belmont Community Centre in Gilesgate Durham, where we had 5 different groups of our incredible members who engaged in difficult outdoor, health and sports-based activities. At the time we had over 80 members at the project and could only choose 25 to take part in the event so we ensured we had a range of age groups. Our members did not disappoint as they brought joy, humour, excitement and inspiration to the Royal visitation. Kate and William met our first group, Sam P, Tom, Alumbeni and David who spoke about their involvement with the Key Fund in which they plan and organise their own events, activities, trips or other funded activities and receive funding to do so. Tom and Alumbeni recently received funding in December 2020 to put on a community Christmas display/meet-up for members to go to our very own community centre and see a display of Christmas lights and receive gift bags and packages to share Christmas spirit. Other Key funded events include a charity football match, group residentials, community events and more.
The Cambridge couple then met our health and well-being group who consisted of Sally, Ella T, Erin, Elanor and Ella D to talk about health and well-being, sensory and much more about the project and what they get up to here. Members have the opportunity to take part in sensory activities and other activities that promote health and wellbeing at our clubs.
William and Kate then met 4 of our members, Lee M, Rob, Evan and Sam H who were taking part in outdoor craft activities. The group did bushcraft and shelter building, followed by natural crafts as they made faces out of natural material with the Duke and Duchess. The Duchess even had a good at making her own clay face but William was too distracted by the amazing and humorous stories Lee and Evan were telling him. The four members discussed completing their Duke Of Edinburgh awards, Lee, Rob and Evan having completed their Gold and Sam having done his silver, preparing for his gold next year. However, it must be said that the majority of our members who were present at the event had completed their DofE awards, including Anna and Eli who were also part of the group but spoke to the Prince and Kate just after the other 4.
When our members told the Prince they had completed their Gold awards, he responded with. The Duke Of Edinburgh, Prince Philip was of course William's grandfather so he asked Lee and Evan, 'Do you know he was my grandfather?' Before referencing 'Sadly he died a few weeks ago. He would have been so pleased that you got your awards.' The group knew of this and the lads were very touched by William's reference. Lee and Evan told William stories about their 5-day sailing adventure, their performances in the Cheesy Waffles shows, and their favourite sports and activities and. Sam and
Robert also had the chance to tell Kate about what they get up to at Cheesy Waffles and their favourite activities, as well as coping with the lockdown. The Duke could not get enough of Lee and Evan's stories and joked that they should write their own book and become a double act. He even asked who was the biggest troublemaker.
The two then interacted with Eli and Anna who communicated really well with the royal couple and showed them their outdoor craft creations. Eli and Anna also took part in outdoor crafts and Eli helped the lads with shelter building.
Finally, the royal couple met our members Lauren, Matthew, Lee N, Natasha and Shaun to talk more about the project, different clubs, sports and favourite football teams, coping with lockdown and Cheesy Waffles online session throughout the pandemic and even taking part in a game of golf with the members. Matthew, Tash, Lauren, Shaun and Lee had a go at the golf range whilst the Duke and Duchess watched. William and Kate even had a go themselves. William hit the ball perfectly with help from Matthew who showed him his perfect golf technique which our members found very entertaining. However, despite Matthew showing the royal couple his perfect golf swing technique, Kate missed the ball completely but the crowd of our staff and members cheered as Kate hit the ball neatly on her second attempt. Matthew told the royals he was a big Sunderland supporter whilst Lauren told them she supports Newcastle to which they learnt that William is an Aston Villa supporter. Lee told the Prince that he was a huge Basketball fan.
Overall, it was such a unique and special day for our project, members, staff and even the local areas that we will never forget. Thanks again to the amazing Erika, The Key Fund and the Durham boys and girls association. Featuring on national and local news, nation on international news articles, reports and social media posts in the like of the USA, Brazil and France was such great exposure for our project so we would kindly appreciate any donations to fund the project and purchases equipment and for activities and fund other events and residentials for our project.
All and all, a day to remember and one of many many memories that make our project so special; educational and entertaining for all.