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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Duke of Gloucester sees behind the scenes at north Cumbria projects

Villagers, parishioners, charity workers and school children pulled out all the stops to impress a special royal visitor.

Duke of Gloucester photo
The Duke of Gloucester unveils the final plaque of an outdoor timeline at St Michael’s Church

The Duke of Gloucester took a trip to north Cumbria to visit three very worthy local projects and meet the people behind them.

His first point of call was a visit to St Michael’s Church in Burgh by Sands, near Carlisle.

The Duke unveiled the final plaque of an outdoor timeline chronicling the history of the church, which also marked the completion of the Three Solway Churches Project.

The £100,000 project has enabled the church plus those in Beaumont and Bowness-on-Solway to improve their facilities and develop a host of educational resources for visitors and schools to teach them about the area’s rich history.

Carolyne Baines is church warden of St Michael’s and has been the project's leader.

She said: “It’s been a wonderful day. It’s the culmination of years and years of planning and to see it recognised in this way is unbelievable. We are so grateful.”

The village was buzzing with excitement as school children lined the churchyard waving Union Jacks.

Inside, children from Burgh by Sands, Kirkbampton and Bowness-on-Solway primary schools put on a short drama showing the history of the three churches.

Paula Hewson, years one and two teacher at Burgh by Sands Primary School, said: “We have just about got all 69 school pupils here with us, they all couldn’t wait and were all very excited. This will be the first royal visit for many of them.”

Seven-year-old Thalia Champkins was one of the children eagerly awaiting the Duke.

She said: “It was very exciting to see him and all my friends were excited too.”

Speaking in the church service, the Duke said: “It has been a great pleasure to come and see you. I’m delighted you are considering all those workers and cyclists that are coming past here. May I congratulate all those who played a part in it.”

The Duke then travelled to Carlisle to speak with the people who run Safety Net, a centre for young people and adults who are affected by rape, sexual or domestic violence. He had a tour of the building and spoke to the workers and volunteers there.

Abigail Finnegan, chief executive officer of Safety Net said: “It is a mark of recognition and something like this only comes along once in a lifetime. There’s real gratitude to the Duke for coming and for having that support network behind us which made his visit possible.”

Speaking to the News & Star after his visits, the Duke said: “All the visits have been interesting and I have very much enjoyed my day.”

The Duke then paid a visit to Wigton Youth Station to meet the young people and volunteers there. He first visited the centre in 1999 when it had only just opened.

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