September 21 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Prince Harry gave the Royal seal of approval to an Ipswich-based community project during an official visit today.
The Prince toured the new home of Inspire Suffolk, in Lindbergh Road, and took part in activities with the young people that the charity helps.
Harry, who unveiled a plaque to mark his visit, said he was pleased to see what the charity was doing, describing it as “great work”, to motivate and educate young people through sport.
In a speech at the end of his visit, he said: “I think a lot of other counties can learn from what you are doing here.”
The Prince, who was based at Wattisham Airfield during his Apache helicopter training, arrived at the centre, which is based at the former Holywells High School site, and was dressed for his sporty morning in tracksuit bottoms and an England rugby polo shirt.
He was certainly in a fun mood as he joined in a training game of tag rugby.
George Hill, nine, from Ipswich, said: “He was funny and making lots of jokes. He told me I had to stay behind the ball and joked that if I went in front again he would slap me.”
Matthew Blacker, nine, added: “It was pretty fun. He was good at rugby and he was pretty fast. It is exciting because I have never met a royal person before.”
After playing tag rugby he then moved on to the football pitch where he took part in a mini game and played in goal as youngsters tried to score penalties – but the Prince was in fine form and kept a clean sheet.
Aryon Tandel, nine, from Ipswich, said: “He tackled me and won the ball but I managed to tackle him back.
“He was taking it quite seriously.”
Harry then moved into the main sports hall where he saw first hand the work the charity, formerly the ITFC Charitable Trust, does with children who have additional needs.
Harry also met young people taking part in the Prince’s Trust Team Programme, which helps disadvantaged young people into work, education and training.
He then unveiled the plaque to mark his visit before moving on to the Suffolk Show.
Last year, Inspire Suffolk worked with more than 60,000 people of all ages, abilities, communities and backgrounds.
Mr Baxter, formerly of BBC Radio Suffolk and CEO of the charity, said: “It is a great honour. It is very difficult for him to get a full picture of what we do but this has given him a good snapshot of the work that we do, using sport as a motivator.
“He was incredibly enthusiastic and we are really grateful for that.”
Dave Muller, chair of Inspire Suffolk’s trustees, added: “It was tremendous.”