TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex, March 2014

Their Royal Highnesses the Earl and Countess of Wessex visited the Isle of Wight on Thursday 27 March and Friday 28 March 2014.  The couple had a number of joint engagements but also spend time visiting organisations individually.

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The Earl and Countess of Wessex was given a tour of Shanklin theatre, before watching a short performance from First Act, a drama group for people with disabilities. While at the theatre, the Earl of Wessex was presented with a birthday cake prepared by the Women’s Institute, in celebration of his 50th birthday.

His Royal Highness is patron of Brading Roman Villa and was shown the museum’s new gallery space and viewed a touring exhibition from The British Museum.

His Royal Highness met volunteers from the Shanklin Youth and Community club and viewed artwork produced by young people who attend the club. He also met representatives from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award groups on the Island and found out about their achievements. Whilst at Shanklin Youth and Community Group, the Earl of Wessex presented an award to Suzanne Whitewood MBE for long service and dedication to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Girl Guides on the Isle of Wight. On departure, the Earl of Wessex was invited to plant the first of 100 bulbs being planted in Shanklin to commemorate the start of the First World War. The chairman of Shanklin Royal British Legion handed the trowel to the Earl of Wessex.

The Earl of Wessex visited Newport Minster in his capacity as patron of the renewal appeal. The Earl has visited the minster on many occasions, on this visit he saw the latest phase of restoration to the north side of the minster including a dramatic change accomplished by freshly cleaned stonework and repairs, the renewal of the archway around the north door and the newly erected pinnacle in the north west corner.

Their Royal Highnesses were guests of honour at a gala fundraising dinner at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes in aid of the Newport Minster Renewal Appeal.

The Countess was introduced to Rapanui staff who explained the history and ethos of the company. Co-owners Rob Drake-Knight and Martin Drake-Knight described the journey of one of their t-shirts from design to shop.

The Countess visited Gatten & Lake Primary School and viewed the school’s project called ‘Shanklin Our Town’ in conjunction with Shanklin Youth and Community Club. The Countess was shown artwork and listened to a song about Shanklin sung by pupils. The school also welcomed pupils from St George’s School and St Catherine’s School who had recently achieved their Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze Award and the Countess spent time learning about their achievements.

The Countess went on to the Isle of Wight Foodbank in Cowes and Hannah King, explained the role of the foodbank on the Isle of Wight and introduced the Countess to staff and volunteers.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex visited St Mildred’s Church, Whippingham, the church where Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry of Battenburg were married in 1885 and are buried. The visit was hosted by the Reverend Allie Kerr, Vicar of East Cowes and Whippingham.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex visited Queensgate Foundation Primary School and met with staff and pupils during a music lesson and cookery lesson. Their Royal Highnesses was shown the school’s world map project and a special project about the royal family. Children also sang a song called ‘The Power in Me’. The Earl and Countess of Wessex was invited to unveil a plaque commemorating their visit. .

The Earl and Countess of Wessex officially opened ‘Childhood at Osborne’, a £1.65 million conservation and interpretation project at the Swiss Cottage at Osborne House. Open to visitors from 1 April 2014, the Swiss Cottage Quarter will enable visitors to step into the world of royal childhood at Osborne for the first time.

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