Belfast receives royal visit from Prince William – mental health & emergency focus

Prince William spent the day in Belfast yesterday, bringing his mental health causes with him, and meeting members of Northern Ireland’s river and air rescue services.

The Duke of Cambridge first visited the mental health charity Inspire, which focuses on promoting wellbeing across the island of Ireland, on an unannounced trip, just a month after Prince Harry’s appearance in early September.

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At the centre, William spoke with former Manchester United player Pat McGibbon, whose brother Philip took his own life in 1993. Mr McGibbon now runs a football programme, aimed at building mental resilience through team sport, in County Armagh; sport’s role in mental wellbeing has been recognised in a number of ways, including Prince Harry’s Invictus Games.

“It’s very important to him and I can totally understand that,” McGibbon said of the Duke’s passion. “He was very personable in everything he said and it was great for him to give up that time and interact with the adults and the kids.”

prince william at inspire in belfast, speaking with youngsters who have developed their own mental health campaign (kensington palace)

The Royal met service workers and counsellors from a number of Inspire’s different programmes – including children from Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, who have developed their own project to raise awareness of mental health and in turn lessen the stigma – before officially opening the charity’s new offices at Lombard House.

At Lombard House, Prince William received a picture by artist Oliver Jeffers for Princess Charlotte, showing a father flying a kite as his daughter paddled in the sea. Jeffers also added simple line drawing to the frame, writing ‘To Charlotte’. Prince George wasn’t left out, receiving a picture of a little boy looking up at the stars.

You can see both images to the right of the second photo below. 

prince william officially opened lombard house for the charity inspire of belfast (kensington palace)

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It was then on to the Titanic Quarter of the city to see the work of Lagan Search and Rescue lifeboat service in the drizzly weather. Of course, William was a search and rescue pilot himself, before moving into air ambulance piloting, so this visit probably was of personal interest for the future King.


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The Prince watched a demonstration of a rescue mission in the Abercorn basin, with one ‘victim’ awaiting rescue from a lifeboat and rescue swimmers, before being ‘treated’ on land by medical staff from the recently established Northern Ireland Air Ambulance service.

The Duke of Cambridge met a number of the volunteers associated with the scheme, and saw one of the helicopters from the new service, which had been ‘parked’ alongside the harbour.

Part of the day’s duties included dedicating a new lifeboat for the search and rescue service. Prince William poured a measure of whiskey onto ‘Ray of Hope’ to bring the boat into service.

In the evening, Prince William attended a private dinner for the Irish Guards Association.

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