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The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester spend the day in Hampshire and Surrey

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester conducted a collective six engagements in Surrey and Hampshire on Tuesday as the royal couple visited the counties.

Both the Duke and Duchess were separated for the duration of the day so that they could visit as many places as possible. Prince Richard was in Surrey while his wife, Birgitte, spent the day in the neighbouring county of Hampshire.

In Epsom, Surrey, the Duke of Gloucester officially opened Epsom College’s new Lower School Building and unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion.

The new £3million red brick building has created a modern and progressive space for Year 7 and 8 pupils to study. It was highly commended in the 2016 Education Business Awards for the most technically advanced building constructed for the purpose of teaching current and future pupils.

During the visit, His Royal Highness took part in a Mandarin lesson, observed a rehearsal of the Lower School choir; and listened to pupils take part in a debate discussing the impact of social media on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Queen’s cousin also observed one of the College’s STEM lessons – which introduce pupils to the interdisciplinary potential of science, technology, engineering and maths.

The visit concluded with The Duke unveiling the plaque, with HRH saying: “Any time that a building is developed it is a sign of success and growth. This new Lower School building is a sure sign of Epsom College’s continued success – it reflects the College’s outstanding reputation.”

Speaking at the event, Headmaster, Jay Piggot, said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, and to invite him officially to open our new Lower School by an act of unveiling the plaque.

“One year on, and the Lower School is having an enormous impact upon the College: enquiries and registrations have trebled over the past year and we are poised to receive record numbers for the entrance tests next January.

“This building has helped us to address the balance of girls and boys at Epsom; for the first time in the history of the College, we have two year groups in the Lower School that contain slightly more girls than boys.

“Most importantly of all, this building is helping to shape an educational experience for our pupils that is happy, engaging and aspirational.”

Pupils line up to welcome the Duke (Photo Credit: Epsom College)

Also in Surrey, Prince Richard visited Connevans Limited, a family run businesses based in Merstham, which specialises in providing equipment for deaf and hard of hearing people.

Founded in 1961, Connevans helps hard of hearing people get the best equipment possible, ensuring they can participate fully in social activities and enjoy some aspects of life which may have become more difficult.

Photo Credit: Connevans Limited

During his visit, the Duke was given demonstrations of some of the products and met Connevans’ owners, staff and some of those who have benefited from the equipment.

One of the products that Prince Richard examined was the Connevans IR Classmate – a Soundfield system which enables all students in a classroom to hear their teacher equally well, wherever they are seated and in whichever direction the teacher is facing.

The Connevans IR Classmate uses a microphone with Infra-Red transmission to send the teachers voice via a receiver/amplifier to multiple speakers around the classroom. This system can also be linked to a deaf students Radio Aid system, enabling them to be fully included in all classroom teaching.

Connevans was awarded the Royal Warrant in 2016 and is now by Appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Manufacturer and Supplier of Audio Equipment.

Photo Credit: Connevans Limited

Meanwhile, the Duchess of Gloucester visited the headquarters of Enham Trust, a charity which supports disabled people, giving them an increased independence.

Birgitte, who is Patron of the trust, met trustees, staff and some of those who the charity supports.

Enham Trust was established over 100-years-ago with the help of King George V, who donated £100,000 towards housing at Enham – which was in the early 20th century as ‘Knight’s Enham’.

In October 1919, there were 150 clients living at Enham. Fast forward 100 years, the trust has helped over 250,000 disabled people live the life they choose with as much independence as possible.

Photo: Jon Bolton for Enham Trust

Another charity that the Duke visited was the Patchworking Garden Project in Dorking. This project aims to change people’s lives through gardening, as well as enabling people to create new friendships and helping with an improvement in well-being through the support of a welcoming environment.

The Patchworking Garden Project describes itself as a social horticultural project which helps those experiencing difficulties as a result of isolation, bereavement or recovery from either psychological or physical to come together and get green-fingers in a supporting environment.

Gardeners can either work independently or work alongside each other in a shared activity. Each session provides a range of activities, from developing the wildlife area to clearing overgrowth.

Back in Hampshire, the Duchess of Gloucester relocated to Marlborough Lines, a British Army installation located on the former site of RAF Andover. While here, Her Royal Highness visited the headquarters of the Army Families Federation (AFF).

Founded in 1982, AFF describes itself as the voice of the Army family. The charity, which the Duchess is Patron of, works hard to improve the quality of life for family members of a soldier serving in the British Army.

AFF is often consulted by the military, politicians, the media on issues concerning Army families.

During her visit, the Duchess observed the work that the charity undertakes supporting family members of British soldiers.

Finally, back in Epsom, the Duke of Gloucester visited the restored Barn at the Royal Automobile Club.

Originally a barn, the club’s motor house dates back to 1770. It has recently finished renovation works to host motoring activities while protecting the heritage.

Founded in 1897, the Royal Automobile Club was awarded its Royal title by King Edward VII 110 years ago in 1907. This makes it Britain’s oldest and most influential motoring organisation.

Throughout its long history, it has hosted countless motoring events from the 1,000 Mile Trial, first held in 1900, to the first pre-war and post-war Grands Prix.

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