Duchess of Cambridge in Cumbria: Air Cadets catch up & learning from Holocaust escapees

The Duchess of Cambridge has carried out her first away day visit since resuming royal duties, following the summer break today, as she spent time with the old and the young in Windermere.

Catherine’s first stop of the day was to the Lake District National Park, where she spent time with a group of RAF Air Cadets. The Duchess was visiting in her role as Honorary Air Commandant of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets to officially re-open the RAF Air Cadets’ Windermere Adventure Training Centre, which recently underwent a £2million refurbishment.

The new training centre will see hundreds of Cadets from throughout the UK coming to the Lake District to take part in various training exercises and activities. The centre will also help them to achieve their Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which is a major achievement in the Cadets, as the late Duke was the Honorary Air Commandant for 63 years before he passed on the role to his granddaughter-in-law during a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in December 2015.

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Today’s visit for Kate is all the more poignant as it comes before a special documentary airs on the BBC, which sees members of the Royal Family remember the Prince Consort as a husband, father and grandfather.

The Duchess, who has a great love for the outdoors and sports, joined a number of cadets for a variety of activities. She wore a helmet over her perfectly blow-dried hair for some mountain biking, tried some hiking and even abseiled down Cathedral Quarry!

During all of the fun and games, Catherine also found the time to speak to the young people who were taking part in the activities with her, asking them how they got through lockdowns and how the pandemic had affected their mental health.

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Following the visit, the youngsters were full of praise for the Duchess and surprised at how ‘normal’ she was.

“She was very nice, a lot less formal than I expected,” said 15-year-old Josh Binnie, while 13-year-old Itelouwa Odipe said that, “she was very kind. Even though she is a royal highness she still does things normal humans do.”

Most people would be ready to call it a day and go home to relax after a busy afternoon, but not Catherine. The Duchess of Cambridge went to meet two very special people who part of the ‘Windermere Children’ in 1945.

After the end of World War II, in the summer of 1945, 300 orphaned Jewish refugees were taken to the Lake District in Cumbria to recuperate following the atrocities that they had witnessed in Nazi occupied Europe, especially in concentration camps.

The Duchess of Cambridge had heard and learned about the ‘Windermere Children’ and wanted to meet them and hear their stories, from war ravaged Europe to running their own companies, writing books, and living a life they could never have imagined when going through the horror they suffered all those years ago.

Today, she joined Ike and Arek on a boat trip in the National Park to do just that.

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The Duchess of Cambridge visits Cumbria and meets two of the Windermere Children, who escaped Nazi occupied Europe

The Duchess, who is a big believer in the power of the outdoors in helping people with their mental health, learned first hand how the many activities and the support that both received at the Calgarth Estate had helped them to start the healing process. The Royal described the experience as ‘powerful’ in a rare personal post on the official Kensington Palace Twitter account.

To end the visit, Catherine then sat down with relatives of the Windermere Children to hear more about the Lake District Holocaust Project, which aims to document the experiences of all 300 children to educate the public on their extraordinary stories. Among the group of relatives was a well-known face of UK daytime TV, Judge Rinder.

Rinder’s grandfather was among the 300 children brought to the Lake District in 1945 after spending time in the Buchenwald and Schlieben camps in Germany before being moved to Theresienstadt in the German-occupied Czechoslovakia. He was liberated by the Russians not long after and escaped, but other members of his family were not as lucky.

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Catherine has previously shown her support for survivors of the Holocaust, taking family photos of their continuing lineage as a sign of hope, hoping to document their bravery, too.

After talking with each relative and learning more about the trips these children made from ghettos and concentration camps to the UK, it was time for the Duchess to say goodbye and return to London and to her own children.

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