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Royal couple honours Duke of Edinburgh Award participants

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Yesterday's visit by the Earl and Countess of Wessex culminated in a thunderous cheer from students at the Berkeley Institute.

The Royal Couple's visit to the Island was in support of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

Following the morning award ceremony at The Centre on Angle Street, the couple's tour took them to the Co-Educational Facility in St George's.

Seven trainees were congratulated, including 19-year-old Jaymi Edwards, who hopes to complete the Gold Award this year.

“This programme has motivated me to push myself further and I hope that the other trainees learn from it like I have,” Mr Edwards told them.

The Earl and Countess continued on to the Martello Tower at Ferry Reach for a view of the Island.

It was the Countess' first visit here, and Prince Edward's third.

After a visit to Somersfield Academy, the Royal afternoon continued with a viewing of manoeuvres by junior sailors at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

The Countess arrived first, shortly after 2pm, and chatted briefly outside with well-wishers. Prince Edward then arrived with Governor Sir Richard Gozney and Lady Gozney, and the Royal Visitors were welcomed by commodore Peter Shrubb, vice commodore Jonathan Brewin, and rear commodores Scott King and Somers Kempe.

Sir Richard said: “The visits this morning went very well indeed, with a very good mixture of young people at The Centre on Angle Street. And we have a wonderful day for sailing.”

After meeting with young Optimist sailors, the entourage proceeded to a private reception at Camden House attended by 100 guests: politicians, clergy and students.

At 2.30pm, a crowd of Northlands Primary School students gathered with teachers alongside the Berkeley Institute driveway, while an officer of the Bermuda Regiment prepared to hoist the Royal Standard in front of the school.

The motorcade drew up shortly before 3pm. It was greeted on the school's steps by Education Minister Dame Jennifer Smith and permanent secretary Warren Jones, along with Berkeley principal Michelle Simmons and the school's Duke of Edinburgh coordinator, Sonia Waldron.

Berkeley board chairman Craig Bridgewater, parent teacher association president Diane Hill and Warwick Academy principal Maggie McCorkell were also present.

Once inside, the Royal Couple met with Berkeley's more than 100 Awards participants, as well as Warwick Academy students.

Duke of Edinburgh Award navigator Brendan Millett, who also chairs the standards and training committee, called the Earl “an excellent person, really down-to-earth and very knowledgeable about the programme”.

The dignitaries then filed into the school auditorium for student performances: a piano recital by Olivia Onyia, a dramatic reading by Kioshi Burgess from Shakespeare's ‘Richard III', a performance by the Berkeley Dance Company and a song by Warwick Academy students from the school's production of ‘Hairspray'.

“I want you to pretend when I unveil this plaque that it's the most exciting day of your life. I want to hear more noise than this auditorium's ever heard,” Prince Edward told the audience of Duke of Edinburgh Award participants and Berkeley prefects as he got onstage to unveil the commemorative plaque for the visit.

After the cheers, Berkeley deputy head girl Aysha DeSilva took the stage.

“It's not often one of my age would get to present a token of appreciation to the Royal Highnesses,” she said, presenting a wrapped gift to the Earl and Countess: two Bermuda cedar pens, and a Bermuda cedar box.

As spectators cheered them along Mount Hill, the visitors drove to Government House, where the Earl and Countess each planted a Bermuda olivewood tree in the western grounds before heading indoors to a private meeting.

Government House foreman Arnold West held up the commemorative spade, dated from 1959, that had just been used by the Earl: “This was given to us by his father,” he said, referring to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Earl and the Countess will continue on their travels this morning by private jet, to other engagements in the Caribbean.

Useful web link: www.dofe.org.

The Earl of Wessex unveils a plaque at the Berkeley Institute yesterday. (Photo by Mark Tatem)
The Earl of Wessex talks to Duke of Edinburgh participants at the Berkeley Institute yesterday. Photo by Mark Tatem
The Earl of Wessex and the Countess of Wessex chat with Dellwood Middle School M2 students outside of their school. (Photo by Mark Tatem)
The Earl of Wessex and Youth Minister Glenn Blakeney pose for a photograph with the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award recipients at The Centre on Angle Street yesterday. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published March 18, 2011 at 10:42 am (Updated March 18, 2011 at 10:42 am)

Royal couple honours Duke of Edinburgh Award participants

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