The Duchess of Gloucester opens Workington Academy

The Duchess of Gloucester made a grand arrival to Workington Academy earlier today, when she arrived by helicopter to officially open the school.

Birgitte, 71, was greeted by crowds of excited pupils, who she chatted with on the playing field after landing.

The Duchess enjoyed a tour of the £16.5 million building before unveiling a commemorative plaque.

Lorrayne Hughes, chief executive of the academy’s sponsor Cumbria Education Trust said, “We are delighted and honoured to welcome HRH the Duchess of Gloucester to Workington Academy and have the opportunity to showcase this wonderful new building.”

“We hope that she has gained a favourable impression of this fantastic new learning environment along with the commitment and dedication of all our students and staff.”

The duchess of gloucester opened new facilities at workington academy (wokington academy)

The school’s head boy and head girl, Nathan Poland and Kiera Benzie, were among those who welcomed the Duchess, alongside the Mayor of Allerdale, Mary Bainbridge, and the Mayor of Workington Ann Bales.

Head boy Nathan said: “I think to get a visit from a Royal to open the school officially just makes it a bit more special. They spent a lot of money on the school and the facilities are a lot better.”

Kiera added: “It’s fantastic, really good publicity and a nice way to celebrate all the hard work that’s been put into this building.”

birgitte, duchess of gloucester on a tour of workington academy

Following the tour, The Duchess of Gloucester was treated to a musical performance from the school’s young musicians, she was then presented with a photograph of the local area and signed the school’s visitor book.

Workington Academy was established last year to replace Stainburn School and Southfield Technology College. The new building, which was built alongside the existing building, has space for over 1,200 students and includes two three-storey wings.

The Duchess, then went on to visit Hospice at Home, to help mark the charity’s 20th anniversary. The charity was founded in 1997, and has provided palliative care services to more than 6,000 families in north east Cumbria.

Julie Blundell, fundraising and marketing manager for the charity, said: “It is a great honour for us. This will be a unique opportunity to commemorate the 20th anniversary year and is a chance to thank all those who work hard for the charity as staff, volunteers, business partners and patrons.”

“A reception will be held and the Duchess will unveil a plaque commemorating the anniversary. This special gathering is also a time to reflect and remember.”

Birgitte’s final stop was at the Stead McAlpin Fabrics factory in Carlisle, which makes and produces fabric for John Lewis and Laura Ashley. She was given a tour of the facilities, and met workers before opening the new Christopher Soper Design Centre for future textile designers.

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