Video: Crowds turn out in force for the Duke of Kent’s visit to RNLI stations in Southwold, Aldeburgh and Ipswich

HUNDREDS of well wishers lined the streets to give the Duke of Kent a very warm welcome on his visit to lifeboat stations across Suffolk.

His Royal Highness was in Southwold, Aldeburgh and Ipswich today to meet with RNLI crew and fundraisers.

The Duke, cousin of the Queen, was visiting Suffolk in his role as president of the RNLI.

He started in Southwold where he was introduced to civic dignitaries, visited the station’s mobile gift shop, spoke with volunteer crew members and met with members of the public who support the life-saving charity.

John Huggins, Southwold lifeboat operations manager, said it was an honour to receive a royal visitor.

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“I’m just delighted,” he said. “As far as I’m aware there’s never been a royal visit to this station since it reopened in 1963.”

Helmsman Cath Fox, who joined in 1999, is currently the only female crew member at Southwold. She is also deputy head teacher at Halesworth Middle School.

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She said: “It is really nice for the crew to be recognised and we’re honoured that we were picked for this. It’s an incredibly rewarding role and it certainly makes you feel part of the community.”

After a private lunch at the Ferry Road station, the Duke spent just short of an hour meeting fundraisers and local RNLI supporters.

From Southwold he moved on to Aldeburgh, where he was greeted by lots of flag waving children from the town’s primary school.

On his tour of the station he met civic dignitaries and was also introduced to coxswain Steve Saint, other crew members, volunteer shop workers and fundraisers.

Mr Saint said: “It’s a great privilege for the Duke of Kent to visit us.

“The weather is perfect and there has been a very good turn out.

“It’s great for our crew and our fundraisers to receive such recognition - there’s a lot of hard work that’s done and they deserve as much praise as possible.”

Among the crew to meet the Duke were Alison Norman, who is also a teacher at Aldeburgh Primary School, and David Gillingwater.

Mrs Norman, who has been a volunteer for 16 years, said: “He was very nice and said he was especially delighted to see all the children who had come out to wave their flags.”

Mr Gillingwater, who has been a volunteer for 15 years, added: “It’s a great honour. It’s the first Royal visit I can remember since I’ve been here.”

Before leaving the Duke had a ride in a bulldozer which is used to clear shingle on the beach and also met feathered fundraiser Magoo.

The cockatoo has become a popular sight in Aldeburgh in recent years, sitting on the wall of his owner’s home raising money for the RNLI.

The tour finished with a visit to the RNLI divisional base in Ipswich.

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