Prince Edward unveils firefighter training complex & visits Midlands outdoor adventure centre

The Earl of Wessex visited the Midlands today, where he proved his love for the great outdoors, by visiting students working on their Duke of Edinburgh award.

The Queen’s youngest son met young people learning and developing survival skills in the heart of the forest at the Wilderness Academy, Laches Wood, near Wolverhampton. Students have the chance to sleep in tents, cook food, build shelters and light fires.

Prince Edward arrived by helicopter and was received by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Mr Ian Dudson. A commemorative plaque was unveiled to mark the visit.

The Chief Executive of Entrust, the company that runs the centre, Simon James said: “We are extremely honoured that The Earl of Wessex has chosen to visit our Laches Wood outdoor education centre to unveil our new Wilderness Academy and meet some of the young people involved in outdoor learning.”

“We see first-hand the benefits that outdoor adventure and exploration offers young people, promoting emotional well-being and inner strength. We hope we showcased the strength of our outdoor education offer to The Earl and our top-flight facilities which are on offer to young people all across the country.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a scheme set up by the Earl’s father, Prince Philip, to help young people “on their path to adulthood”.

Prince Edward is interested in nature and the countryside, and is passionate about the award. It is expected that when his father’s dukedom dissolves into the Crown, Prince Charles will appoint Edward as the new Duke of Edinburgh, to continue this work.

As the African drums sounded in the background, the Earl chatted to pupils from Barnfields Primary School in Stafford, who impressed Edward with their woodcraft skills. Riley Howarth, 10, who made a pump drill said: “He was asking about how we made the drills and wanted to know what we had learnt. He was very nice and friendly!”

 

The deputy headteacher of the school, Graham Bell remarked, “The children were rather nervous – they think meeting royalty is a bit like the Tudor times and were afraid of doing something wrong. The Prince spoke to them and was really interested in the skills they had learnt – they did the school really proud.”

Later in the day, Edward opened a new training centre for firefighters at Staffordshire Fire HQ in Stone. As he unveiled the plaque to mark the event, he joked, “I’m going to make this look as slick and as professional as possible – it has taken years of practice and we don’t receive training, we have to learn on the job.”

Chief Fire Officer, Becci Bryant, presented the Earl with a miniature statue of the one that sits outside of service HQ, depicting firemen.

She said: “This marks an important milestone in the journey of the service because training cannot be underestimated. It is an incredible facility in which firefighters from Staffordshire will continue to develop and learn which is crucial to everyone’s lives.”

At the complex, Prince Edward gave a speech, where he praised the work of firefighters across the country:  “Thank you for inviting me to join you today. It’s great to see the facility and great to be able to see the work you do. I am delighted to have been invited to this new facility. I know it will be a massive advantage to the firefighters.”

The Earl and Stafford Borough Mayor, Aidan Godfrey, were given a tour of the new three story facility, which can be used to replicate real-life emergencies that firefighters may face, from locating fires in a smoke filled workplace to tackling blazes in high rise buildings.

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