'Our pride': Pupils so honoured to meet William and Kate on Wolverhampton visit

Teachers and pupils from schools across Wolverhampton have spoken of their immense pride, after students were invited to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their visit to the city.

The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Way Youth Zone Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Way Youth Zone Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire

The Royal couple marked Mental Health Awareness Week by spending Thursday in Wolverhampton to learn about vital projects supporting the wellbeing of local young people.

Students from Fallings Park Primary School challenged William and Kate to Football, ping-pong, archery and tennis during their visit to The Way Youth Zone.

The Duke of Cambridge playing table tennis during a visit to The Way Youth Zone Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire

Sam Holmes, member of the senior leadership team at the school, said: "We found out the day before the visit that pupils from our school had been invited along to the visit by the Wolves Foundation.

"Children from Year 4 attended the visit at The Way and were on the sports courts playing football, archery, tennis and table tennis with the Duke and Duchess.

"Our students, particularly Shania who got to play table tennis with the Duke and Duchess, and Tu'Nique, who was interviewed on BBC Midlands today, were so excited.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge playing table tennis during a visit to The Way Youth Zone Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire

"It was such an amazing experience for them to be able to spend time at The Way and also meet royalty. Our children have felt on top of the world since Thursday and they have been the talk of the school!

"We were surprised and honoured to be chosen, and we have to say a big thank you to Wolves Foundation, The Way and Wolverhampton Council for this opportunity."

More from the royal visit:

The Duke and Duchess then joined pupils from Long Knowle Primary School to plant fruit and vegetables in The Way's garden, and were shown an urban nature graffiti wall which is being created by young people who attend the Youth Zone.

"It was such an amazing experience for them to be able to spend time at The Way and also meet royalty. Our children have felt on top of the world since Thursday and they have been the talk of the school!

The Duchess of Cambridge shows off her archery skills Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire

Long Knowle Primary School headteacher Elliot Long said: “It was a delight to see our pupils chatting so confidently and eloquently with their Royal Highnesses. It was an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.

“They shared their lockdown experiences and talked about how being outside and connecting with nature had supported their wellbeing. One pupil even encouraged the Duke to try growing chillies to use in his home cooking!”

The Duke and Duchess also met with HeadStart ambassadors.

The Duke of Cambridge kicks a football Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire

David Omorehiomwan, ambassador and Year 10 pupil at Colton Hills Community School, said: “It was amazing to meet The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I was shocked at how easy it was to speak to them – it was like speaking to friends I have known for a long time.

“I’m glad they came to Wolverhampton. It is a very diverse place with many different cultures and many different approaches to mental health.

“They asked me about my lockdown experiences and how I use nature to benefit my emotional wellbeing. I told them how I had coped during the pandemic and how I make sure I enjoy nature to ensure that my mental health is my main focus.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited The Way in Wolverhampton on Thursday

Colton Hills headteacher Andrea Stephens added: “We were thrilled to learn that three of our students had the opportunity to meet with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"We already knew what amazing ambassadors they are for Colton Hills Community School and it filled us with great pride to see them representing Wolverhampton in such a wonderful way.

“Thank you to The Way and HeadStart for offering them this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and for all of the help that they provide to support young people in our community.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited The Way in Wolverhampton on Thursday

HeadStart ambassadors from Moreton School also welcomed the couple.

Headteacher Nicola Bayliss said: "Our students were thrilled to have met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We have all been inspired by their work to continue our focus on improving mental health in the city.

"This has been a huge focus at Moreton School, particularly over the last few years with our work on the HeadStart project.

"Our HeadStart student ambassadors work across our community to promote good mental health and we were delighted that this has been recognised with a visit from the royal family."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Base25

William and Kate then headed to Base 25 which offers emotional wellbeing support to children and young people.

During their visit to the charity, based on Wheeler’s Fold in the heart of the city, Their Royal Highnesses found out more about the Mi Choice service commissioned by HeadStart Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton Council and Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group to support children and young people experiencing mild to moderate emotional wellbeing concerns.

Alan Jarvis, head of service at Base 25, said: “It was fantastic to have the opportunity to show Their Royal Highnesses first-hand the support that Base 25 offers.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Base25

“Their visit will put a national spotlight on the diverse range of techniques that we use when supporting often vulnerable young people and their families in Wolverhampton through our Mi Choice service.”

The royal couple's final stop was at HugglePets CIC in Cooper Street, which provides therapies using animals for children and adults.

Ian Dixon, director of the not-for-profit, family run-business, said: "Their Royal Highnesses took part in an animal therapy session with local children, these help to build their confidence and support their mental health.

The Duke of Cambridge views the community aquarium Photo: Adrian Dennis/PA Wire

"They interacted with rabbits, a chameleon and even a bearded dragon.

"It was fantastic that they came to honour us, we came from nothing and set up this business from a crowdfunder campaign and with support from the community and local authority. We now have the backing of the National Lottery.

The Duchess of Cambridge handles a chameleon during a visit to HugglePets in the Community Photo: Adrian Dennis/PA Wire

"We were so surprised that they found us and wanted to come and see what we do, it's just fantastic for us.

"We don't earn a profit, all of the funding we get is put into the business and our sessions to support others. Hopefully the recognition that we will get from this visit will allow us to do even more to support children and local people in Wolverhampton."

The Duke of Cambridge handles Gus the Guinea Pig Photo: Adrian Dennis/PA Wire

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