The Duke of Gloucester has a busy day in Surrey

The Duke of Gloucester spent Tuesday in Surrey visiting a number of organisations – the Patchworking Garden Project, Connevans Limited, Epsom College and the restored Barn at the Royal Automobile Club.

The Patchworking Garden Project in Dorking, Surrey uses gardening to bring positive changes to people’s lives. The charity particularly focuses on those experiencing difficulties as a result of isolation, bereavement or recovery from either psychological or physical ill-health.

The duke of gloucester sees how gardening is improving people’s lives at the patchworking garden project (andy newbold)

prince richard inspects a scarecrow in the garden (andy newbold)

To mark his visit, The Duke of Gloucester unveiled a fitting wooden plaque in the garden.

At Epsom College, Prince Richard – one of The Queen’s cousins – opened the new state of the art Lower School. Costing £3 million, the building, not far from Windsor and the eponymous race course, creates a modern and progressive space for Year 7 and 8 pupils to study. The Education Business Awards highly commended the project in 2016 for the most technically advanced building constructed for the purpose of teaching current and future pupils.

Accompanying the Duke was HM Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr Michael More-Molyneux; Chairman of Surrey County Council, Peter Martin; Mayor of Epsom & Ewell, Councillor Liz Frost; MP Chris Grayling MP; Police & Crime Commissioner, David Munro; Epsom College’s Chair of Board of Governors, Dr Alastair Wells, and Headmaster, Jay Piggot.

Touring the school, the royal guest saw a variety of lessons to demonstrate the breadth of opportunities available to pupils, including a Mandarin Chinese lesson, a rehearsal of the Lower School choir, and listened as pupils debated the impact of social media on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Duke of Gloucester also observed one of the College’s STEM lessons – which introduce pupils to the interdisciplinary potential of science, technology, engineering and maths – before visiting Epsom’s art department.

At the conclusion of the visit, the Prince unveiled a plaque and was presented with gifts by two Year 8 pupils: Sophie Norman and Arthur van Grondelle. The Duke said: “Any time that a building is developed it is a sign of success and growth. This new Lower School building is a sure sign of Epsom College’s continued success – it reflects the College’s outstanding reputation.”

Speaking at the event, Headmaster, Mr Jay Piggot, said “It is a great pleasure to welcome HRH The Duke of Gloucester, and to invite him officially to open our new Lower School by an act of unveiling the plaque.

“One year on, and the Lower School is having an enormous impact upon the College: enquiries and registrations have trebled over the past year and we are poised to receive record numbers for the entrance tests next January.

“This building has helped us to address the balance of girls and boys at Epsom; for the first time in the history of the College, we have two year groups in the Lower School that contain slightly more girls than boys.

“Most importantly of all, this building is helping to shape an educational experience for our pupils that is happy, engaging and aspirational.”

The Duke, who is the grandson of King George V and Queen Mary, then went on to Connevans Limited in Merstham.

Connevans is a family-run business, who specialise in providing equipment for the deaf and hearing impaired. Meeting the owners and staff, Prince Richard was given demonstrations of some of the company’s products, including the IR Classmate – a Soundfield system which enables all students in a classroom to hear their teacher equally well, wherever they are seated and in whichever direction the teacher is facing.

Connevans was awarded the Royal Warrant in 2016 and is now, by appointment, Supplier of Audio Equipment to Her Majesty The Queen.

Finally, the Duke visited the Surrey branch of the Royal Automobile Club. They have recently won a heritage award for the conversion of an 18th century barn into a showroom for its historic vehicles. The Old Barn Motor House, which belongs to the Royal Automobile Club, based in Woodcote Park, Epsom Downs, won the 2017 Surrey Heritage Award.

The Royal Automobile Club was founded in 1897 was awarded its royal title byEdward VII in 1907, sealing its status as Britain’s oldest and most influential motoring organisation.

Throughout its history it has championed motoring events from the 1,000 Mile Trial, first held in 1900, to the first pre-war and post-war Grands Prix at Brooklands in 1926 and Silverstone in 1948, to the present-day Regent Street Motor Show and the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

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