Video/Gallery: Princess Royal offers special message to school pupils during Suffolk visit

The Princess Royal told children and teachers that they should remain “ambitious” and “inspired” as she visited a Suffolk school

Officially opening the new �750,000 sports hall at Samuel Ward Academy, Chalkstone Way, Haverhill, Her Royal Highness told youngsters that the new facilities would help strengthen the community in the region.

Addressing the hall, she said: “I can see that sport is no stranger to this school and you have invested more in it, which is a pleasure to see. “I have noticed that you have got one or two pupils with their eyes on the Olympics and I hope that this year has inspired you even more.”

She added: “What you may do on the way to achieving these ambitions can be just as important, for instance how you contribute to the community. This sports hall will certainly do that.”

The Princess Royal, dressed in a fitted, buttoned-up purple overcoat with tartan trim, arrived at the school at about 12.30pm and was greeted at her helicopter by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, the Lord Tollemache.

After a short performance by the school choir, the Queen’s daughter was led into the sports hall where she chatted at length with a number of teachers and pupils.

Howard Lay, principal of Samuel Ward, described the visit as “an amazing privilege and a real honour”.

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Speaking before the unveiling of a plaque to mark the official opening, Mr Lay said: “I would like to thank Her Royal Highness for giving up so much of her time to talk to us.

“The school puts sport at the heart of what it is doing. We believe that a spirit of cooperation and competition is the way to help develop young people.”

A posy of flowers was presented to the princess by Year 10 pupil Alice Jackson.

The 14-year from Glemsford, who found out two weeks ago that she would be handing over the flowers on behalf of the school, said she felt “very nervous” but “really honoured”.

Other students to meet the princess, included 15-year-old twins, Sam and Alex Horscroft who were demonstrating table tennis in the hall when they were approached by the royal party.

The pair, who are from Haverhill, said the princess had asked them what tournaments they were entering and how far they wanted to progress in the sport.

Mr Lay said the princess had told him she had been impressed by the confidence of the academy’s pupils.

She said that all of the pupils looked her in the eye and smiled.

“I found her charming, intelligent and she clearly had a really good idea of where the school had come from and what it has been made into now. She was really interested in how we have used sport to retain the Olympic spirit.”

He added: “It impressed me that she took so much time talking to the children”.

“Part of the philosophy of this school is that we always have time for everyone and that is what has been mirrored by the princess.

“It has been a proud day.”

The princess spent the afternoon at a Genzyme, a company that specialises in development and delivery of transformative therapies for patients affected by rare and debilitating diseases before heading to Haverhill House.

She flew out of Haverhill at 3.45pm.