The Duchess of Cambridge is set to undertake three engagements in Kensington, London, on Monday, the 19th of January.
Her Royal Highness will start the day by attending a coffee morning at Family Friends, an organisation working to help families in need. After being told about the organisation’s work, she will meet the charity’s volunteers, as well as some of the families that have benefited from the support.
Family Friends was established in 1993 to assist disadvantaged families in Kensington and Chelsea, but has since expanded its reach to Hammersmith and Fulham. A network of trained volunteers aim to ‘help families help themselves’ by building confidence and planning for economic improvements. They do this through mentoring the children, and befriending their parents.
Volunteers are the most important aspect of the charity. Each volunteer is selected for their warmth, empathy and understanding, and then matched with the family whose needs they would suit best. Today, Family Friends has successfully helped over 700 families, a feat for which they were awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2013.
For her second engagement of the day, The Duchess will officially open the Kensington Aldridge Academy. The Academy is a new school for pupils aged 11 to 18. It first opened in September 2014, accepting 184 students from year seven. By adding a group of students each year, the school is expected to reach its full capacity of over a thousand students in five years.
The Academy will follow a curriculum that is focused on developing entrepreneurial qualities in children, with additional facilities such as a sports hall and dance studio available to the students outside school hours. It is sponsored by the Aldridge Foundation, a charity that helps young people reach their potential through education. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea also contributed, gifting the Academy the site on which it stands, as well as £10.4m for construction.
At the opening, Catherine will meet governors, staff and students, who will take her on a tour of the building. She will have a chance to attend a part of a lesson herself, before watching a dance performance and visiting the school’s Creates Hub for young entrepreneurs to meet students who are designing items to be sold at Portobello Road Market. Before leaving, The Duchess will unveil a plaque commemorating her visit.
Her final engagement of the day will take the Duchess of Cambridge to Kensington Leisure Centre. After taking a tour of its facilities, which include a swimming pool, gym and sauna, Catherine will watch primary school children playing various sports in the Main Sports Hall. She will then formally open the Centre, and unveil a plaque.
The new Kensington Leisure Centre has been built to replace the one that had existed since the 1970s, was often used by Catherine’s husband and brother-in-law, Princes William and Harry, who had swimming lessons there while they were studying at Wetherby School.
While the Centre had previously been refurbished in 2001, an event marked by a visit from The Duke of Edinburgh, the facilities were still lacking. However, the new £29.4m Leisure Centre now boasts a 25-metre swimming pool, a spectator gallery that can seat 250, a multi-purpose hall, a 120-station gym, two fitness studios and sauna facilities.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s visit will end with a reception in the dance studio, followed by some speeches.
These will not be the first engagements of the year for the pregnant Duchess, who is expected to officially name the Clore Art Room next week.