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22nd March 2019

The Women’s Royal Army Corps (WRAC) Association – whose strapline is ‘Supporting women who served’ – was honoured to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex to Guildford Cathedral. She attended a national Reception in the Nave to mark the Association’s Centenary and to cement its relationship with Guildford and the Cathedral, as the association’s ‘Mother city and church’. Members from across the UK came to celebrate, including Pensioners from the Royal Hospital Chelsea in their famous red uniforms. 

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9th March 2019

HRH The Princess Royal attended the Grand Military Gold Cup Day at Sandown Park Racecourse. The Grand Military Gold Cup is unique in the racing calendar, as a steeplechase restricted to horses that are owned or have been leased by those who are serving (or have previously served) in the Navy, Army or Air Force of any country, or their Reserve or Auxiliary Forces. To qualify to ride, the jockey must be a serving member of the Regular, Territorial or Reserve Armed Forces of any country. The associated charity for this year’s race day was the DMRC Benevolent Fund, previously based at Headley Court in Surrey and now re-located to Stanford Hall, Loughborough. For the first time this year, The Worshipful Company of Farriers – HRH The Princess Royal is a Past Master – presented a Best Shod Award for the horses in the Grand Military Gold Cup.

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5th March 2019

HRH The Duke of Kent opened the new Stokes Centre for Urology at Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford. Believed to be the largest NHS investment in Urological services for a decade, it is the only stand-alone building in the UK purpose built for Urology patients. His Royal Highness was given a guided tour by Consultant Urological Surgeon, Professor Stephen Langley, one of the world’s leading prostate cancer specialists, before unveiling a commemorative plaque. The £6 million Centre – part-funded with £3 million from more than 9,000 community donations through the Prostate Project – will deliver cutting edge treatment and research for patients from across Surrey and demonstrates what can be achieved when the community and the local hospital work together. 

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Woking-based Harvey Water Softeners, the UK’s largest manufacturer of water softeners and a holder of the ‘Made in Britain’ marque, received the Queen's Award for Enterprise in Innovation in 2018. The company was founded in 1978 by Harvey Bowden, and it was his development of the first compact, non-electric block salt HV3 Water Softener (to solve the problems of limescale build-up) that won this Enterprise in Innovation Award. HRH The Duke of Kent toured the Woking factory where he was shown the intricacies of the manufacturing process, before making the presentation and joining in a celebration with some of the 300 management and staff. 

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Egham Orbit, the £20 million flagship community hub that offers a wide range of sports, health and wellbeing activities and has been designed with a focus on inclusivity, was officially opened by HRH The Duke of Kent. Managed by Achieve Lifestyle – a charitable community leisure trust – under lease from Runnymede Borough Council, the aim is to improve community wellbeing and provide wider access and opportunity for the whole community. Egham Orbit is home to Runnymede’s first public swimming pool that has two pools with floors that can be slowly raised or lowered, and is working closely with local disability swimming group, Egham Constellations (photo above, right) to provide accessible facilities for their sessions.


28 February 2019

The Children’s Trust at Tadworth was first stop for HRH The Countess of Wessex in a series of visits across Surrey. She visited the Trust’s national specialist rehabilitation centre before taking part in a music workshop where young people with complex disabilities demonstrated how they play instruments using new technology. At a special reception, the Countess officially opened the specially designed new Music Zone facility, funded by Simplyhealth, for children undergoing rehabilitation after brain injury.

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At Farm Place in Ockley, Her Royal Highness visited the Amber centre, where up to 30 homeless and unemployed young people are provided with a temporary home and the space and support needed to rebuild their lives. The Countess met young residents, saw the Amber programme in action, and heard how it helps develop their confidence and skills – enabling them to move-on to their own accommodation and back into work or training. Residents also performed a new song they had been working on for her.

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The day concluded with a tour of the Silent Pool Gin Distillery at Albury, where Managing Director Ian McCulloch explained how the business is being expanded to increase production and meet both UK demand and the growing export market. The Countess mixed natural ingredients for the botanical gin and assisted Silent Pool staff to place bottles on to the bottling line and fill each with gin. She then packed up six that she had personally bottled and these were presented to the local Cherry Trees children’s charity, to use in fundraising efforts.

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31 January 2019

HRH Princess Alexandra visited the Sunbury Millennium Embroidery project and met some of the volunteers who have led and guided this outstanding community initiative since its inception. Her Royal Highness viewed the finished embroidery, which was executed by over 150 embroiderers, as she toured the award-winning Gallery in which it is housed. With the support of a committed team of over 45 volunteers, the building receives 45,000 visitors annually.

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20 November 2018

HRH The Duchess of Gloucester visited the Royal Alexandra and Albert School in Reigate to officially re-open newly refurbished Gatton Hall in Gatton Park, that is both a sixth form boarding house and venue for important school occasions. In her role as the School’s President, the Duchess cut the vast red ribbon that had been tied around the six pillars of this imposing Grade II listed building. She talked to boarders who proudly showed her around their new living environment, met teaching staff who care for 'Foundation' pupils and spoke to some of the pupils that currently benefit from the support of the School's charity. Some of those who worked on the £3.2m Gatton Hall refurbishment project, which was completed on time, were also presented to the Royal visitor.

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13 November 2018

HRH The Duke of Kent presented the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the Basingstoke Canal Society, in recognition of the work done by its volunteers to help restore and maintain this waterway for the benefit of the local community and visitors alike. The Duke had formally opened the Canal when restoration was completed in 1991 and now this presentation took place at the Canal Centre at Mychett, with around 60 Society volunteers representing the many hundreds who have helped over 50 years. The glass trophy was presented to Kevin Redway, one of the Society’s longest serving volunteers. The Royal visitor was also introduced by the Chairman of the Canal Society, Philip Riley, to some of the 200 currently volunteering.

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Next, His Royal Highness visited The Old Chapels in Godalming to join the 21st anniversary celebrations at Skillway, a charity that trains and motivates disadvanted and disengaged young people in practical workshop skills –carpentry and joinery; metalwork and basic engineering; and stonework. The Duke also enjoyed seeing the students’ hands-on creativity in the creative arts studio. Staff, tutor volunteers and pupils had the opportunity to share the positive impact of the Skillway experience, and the specialist tutors provided demonstrations of the practical skills that are taught to students who may be struggling with the academic formality of a school education.
Photo, Pete Gardner

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At Zone3 in Merrow, Guildford, His Royal Highness presented the Queen’s Award for International Trade to the company's young founder, James Lock. From a single hot-desk at Loughborough University (where James studied), Zone3 has grown organically to become Europe’s leading triathlon and swimwear brand. The Duke met the staff team and heard that rapid success has been achieved by a deep-rooted passion for endurance sports, an athlete-centric approach to garment creation, and the belief that every product should offer market leading performance, innovation and functionality.

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25 September 2018

The mediaeval manor house at West Horsley Place was first stop for HRH The Duke of Gloucester on his early autumn 2018 visit to Surrey. He was shown the current restoration of this historic building and learnt about The Mary Roxburghe Trust’s vision to restore the house, gardens, 380-acre estate and eight Grade II listed outbuildings, and to create a vibrant centre for the performing, visual and creative arts and crafts. As part of that vision, the Royal visitor was invited to visit the UK’s first new 21st century opera house, The Theatre in the Woods, built and operated at West Horsley Place by Grange Park Opera.

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The Grange Centre at Great Bookham was next on the Royal itinerary, where the Duke – who is Royal Patron – opened the New Heritage Room on the first floor of the Main House. He spent time talking with residents and staff, made scones with the catering team, and met three generations: Audrey Warboys, a member of staff in 1949 at the School of Stitchery and Lace, then at the Grange; Peggy Brooks, who joined as a trainee in 1955; and Joanna, a resident in the Supported Living service, who is currently training to be a tour guide for the New Heritage Room.

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The tour concluded at Surrey History Centre in Woking, to mark a double anniversary: the 70th anniversary of the creation of Surrey County Council’s professional archive service and the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Centre as a purpose-built home for Surrey’s heritage services. The Duke unveiled a plaque and toured the Centre with archivists and curators.

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25 June 2018

Three Surrey-based organisations showcased their work to The Earl of Wessex on one action-packed day in June. At Box Hill School in Mickleham, His Royal Highness met students engaged in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Box Hill School has been a DofE testing centre for over 50 years and the school was proud to receive a special presentation from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at St James’s Palace in 2012 to mark this milestone. During this visit, The Earl of Wessex opened the new £5m Sports Centre and watched students from across the year groups participating in a variety of activities in the impressive facilities.

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Next stop on the Royal tour was at Oakleaf Enterprise in Guildford, where the Royal visitor helped celebrate the 21st anniversary of Oakleaf Enterprise and to raise awareness of the work this registered charity does in the local community to support adults experiencing mental illness. His Royal Highness met with Oakleaf clients who have made – and continue to make – huge progress, and also recognised the valuable contribution made by the Oakleaf volunteers who, in 2017, received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.


Finally, The Earl of Wessex visited Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership’s Bike Project in Guildford (now also operating in Walton-on-Thames). There, he met with participants in the project and acknowledged the contribution of partner organisations and volunteers. This social enterprise collects unwanted bicycles from the public and other organisations and then provides free skills, accredited training and work experience for local jobseekers and young people to refurbish these bikes. Good quality second-hand bikes are then sold to the local community at an affordable price, to sustain the organisation.


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16 May 2018

HRH The Earl of Wessex visited member schools within the Weydon Multi Academy Trust in south-west Surrey to meet Duke of Edinburgh's Award students and those who support them. The Award scheme is recognised by all four schools as key to their students’ development and the Royal visitor was able to witness ‘The DofE Award in action’.

At Weydon School, there is a long and highly successful record of offering students the chance to gain Bronze and Silver level DofE awards. Each year over 200 young people get involved, including those with additional SEND needs. The Ridgeway School caters for students aged 2 to 19 with severe and complex learning difficulties. The school offers a small group of students the opportunity to gain the Bronze award. Farnham Heath End and Woolmer Hill Schools have been working under their own Award Licences for just over a year. While both have faced some challenges when setting up DofE, the hope is that the Earl’s visit will re-energise their resolve to develop a sustainable programme, allowing for significant future growth of DofE in these schools.

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20 March 2018

Bells Piece, the Leonard Cheshire Disability home in Farnham that provides a broad range of support services to over 80 adults with learning disabilities, autism or acquired brain injuries was proud to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex for a visit. She met with staff, volunteers and most importantly residents and those in supported living, and joined-in with others who attend a range of thriving activities and life skills services each week. The Countess also heard about the transition service for young people in supported living that Bells Piece is opening in South Farnham.

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20 February 2018

HRH The Duke of Gloucester opened the newly refurbished European headquarters of Cubic Transportation Systems in Salfords, Reigate, where he was welcomed by the Lord-Lieutenant, who presented Mr Roger Crow, Executive Vice President and Managing Director.The international company is one of Surrey’s leading employers in the science, engineering and technology fields. The Royal visitor was given an overview of Cubic’s business, which includes the provision of all ticketing and revenue management for Transport for London as well as for transport operators and authorities in many major cities around the world. The Duke’s visit concluded with the presentation of CEO Awards to Cubic staff and apprentices.

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At Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC) at Blindley Heath, His Royal Highness toured the facility before presenting the company with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise (International Trade). MRMC has provided motion control robotic solutions to the film and television industries for five decades and won an Academy Award for changing the way Hollywood works – it is the motion control choice for major blockbusters like Star Wars. It has also expanded into industries such as e-commerce, security and broadcast, and been on Wimbledon Centre Court for the last four years, as well as the London, Sochi and Rio Olympic Games.

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The Duke also visited North Downs Specialist Referrals in Bletchingley, an internationally acknowledged centre of excellence for Specialist Veterinary Care. Founded in 2005, the hospital currently employs 23 specialist veterinary surgeons and 110 staff and treats in excess of 400 dogs and cats a month referred by GP veterinary surgeons in Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Hampshire. Hospital Director, Terry Emmerson, and his colleagues explained the specialist treatments carried out, including hip replacement, brain surgery, pacemaker placement and cataract surgery as well as a number of procedures only available in a few veterinary hospitals worldwide.

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18 October 2017

HRH The Princess Royal visited Royal Holloway, University of London, in her capacity as Chancellor of the University of London, to formally open the new library and student services centre building. Built at a cost of £57 million and with 12.8 kilometres of shelving, the state-of the-art library has been named in honour of one of Britain’s most famous suffragettes (and Royal Holloway alumna) Emily Wilding Davison. At the opening, The Princess Royal also presented students from the Royal Holloway Community Action volunteering scheme with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2017 (above left). This award – the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups – recognised the work of some 3,000 volunteering students in helping build strong communities and leading projects to support local organisations.

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12 October 2017

To mark the centenary of Holy Cross Hospital, HRH Princess Alexandra opened a new learning and development centre named after St Hugh. This is one of several projects completed to celebrate the 100 years since the Daughters of the Cross established the hospital in Haslemere. Her Royal Highness was introduced to civic dignitaries and spent time talking with the Sisters, senior medical staff, patients and their families, before being invited to unveil a commemorative plaque. In these photographs she is seen (left) being welcomed by CEO, Christopher Hinton, and meeting Sister Veronica; (centre) being briefed by Sister Mary Agnes; and (right) unveiling the plaque.

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29 September 2017

Thousands lined the streets of Dorking as a military parade took place, complete with the Band of the Household Cavalry, to salute the staff of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court. The Centre closes in 2018 and moves to a much larger site, with state-of-the-art facilities, in Leicestershire. HRH The Countess of Wessex attended the Service of Thanksgiving at St Martin’s Church, then joined the March along Dorking High Street, before taking the Royal Salute. Headley Court has helped thousands of injured servicemen and women to recover from devastating combat injuries, both physical and mental. In his address, HM Lord-Lieutenant, Michael More-Molyneux said: “We thank all the regular staff and volunteers for their commitment to so many people. The veterans who are with us today remind us of their bravery in fighting for our country to keep us safe and free. Surrey is proud to have been home to the DMRC for 70 years.”

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12 September 2017

HRH The Duke of Cambridge visited the McLaren Technology Centre outside Woking, home to the innovation, development and production of McLaren’s road cars. The Duke was welcomed by McLaren Automotive CEO, Mike Flewitt, and met the team responsible for creating some of the world's most pioneering sports and supercars. He heard about the evolution of McLaren vehicles over the decades before visiting the factory floor of the McLaren Production Centre, where he met the world-class designers, engineers, and technicians. The Duke was also introduced to some of the company's apprentices, and spoke to female employees – McLaren has a track-record of opening up the industry to women. At the end of his tour, The Duke christened one of the latest McLaren models, fixing a McLaren badge to it.

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23 February 2017

HRH The Earl of Wessex visited four Surrey organisations on one day, starting with the Leatherhead Youth Project (LYP) and the Community Foundation for Surrey to hear more about the work undertaken by both organisations. LYP hosted the event at All Saints Church in Leatherhead, where The Earl met young people and staff linked to the Project, including those who attend the BFree after school drop-in hub, and students who benefit from LYP one to one mentoring. HRH was taught how to make coffee by the Allsaints Coffee Shop team, a group of young apprentices who run the LYP on-site social enterprise. Community Foundation for Surrey staff, trustees, donors – and groups supported by the Foundation – were also presented to The Earl of Wessex. By working with donors who want to give back to their local communities, the Community Foundation awards grants to disadvantaged individuals and voluntary groups that provide vital services for people in need – over £1 million was distributed to local communities in 2015-2016 alone.

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Next on The Earl’s itinerary was a visit to the GASP Motor Project Workshop at Albury, where young people from across the social divide take part in programmes of basic engineering and motor mechanics in ways that re-engage them with learning. He met the GASP team – staff, volunteers and Board trustees and advisers – together with stakeholders and funders. But mostly, he talked with students from St Peter’s School in Guildford and Woking High School working on four-stroke engines; girls and boys from Bishop David Brown at Sheerwater, gaining workplace experience in the GASP Industry-Linked programme with Stanhope-Seta at Chertsey and Woking Community Transport; and pupils from Broadwater School at Godalming and its COIN Centre, where sessions have been delivered by the charity’s Mobile Unit. Six enthusiastic young people who regularly attend the GASP evening programme in their free time talked HRH through the electric kit cars they have built and raced – at Goodwood and Dunsfold – over the past year. And HRH met GASP alumni now embarking on apprenticeships, university and college courses, thanks to what they have learnt with GASP.

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From there, the roar of the greasepaint beckoned at the Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre in Guildford, where The Earl watched an excerpt of Guildford School of Acting’s current main stage production of Guys and Dolls. He also received a tour of the set for Roald Dahl’s The Witches in the Mill Studio and met the young cast and youth theatre team. In a busy visit schedule, HRH observed the youth theatre working with students from King’s College, Guildford on a project to create a piece of theatre about the perceptions and reality of their locality, which will go on tour. Later, he learnt about the Guildford Aspire project, a Guildford Borough Council initiative to involve the Youth Theatre in deprived areas of the borough in ways that promote the belief that ‘every person matters’.

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Royal visitors to Surrey

Organisations, schools, companies and the military across Surrey have welcomed Royal visitors over the past months.