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Anchors away with Princess Anne

Things were plain sailing for Princess Anne on Friday 19th September as she visited Southam to open a new Royal Yachting Association training centre. But this was a Royal opening with a difference – The Princess Royal performed this opening on the Canal.

Princess Anne was invited to open the brand new Nelsons Wharf Inland Waterways Training centre in Stockton in her role as President of the RYA. Steve Vaughn, Principal and Chief Instructor was very positive about the Royal visit, “It’s phenomenal having Her Royal Highness opening the centre, the hairs on the back of my neck have been standing up. With Her Royal Highness coming here it gives all credibility and says ‘look training is OK’.”


Princess Anne at the University of Ulster

Princess Anne at the University of Ulster

The new training centre, which is owned by Willow Wren Training, is part of a fantastic new regeneration programme of the canal arm and canal wharf. The site was last used to serve Nelsons Cement Works in the 1940’s although this was demolished in the mid 1960’s and the site has never been used since.

Steve Vaughn continued, “Steering a narrow boat on a canal is not difficult, and if you make a mistake, they’re made of steel and pretty resilient. But, if you want to do it right every single time and not end up in embarrassing situations when you’re hitting something, that’s where the training works.”

Work on the centre started almost a year ago and is now RYA recognised. Its five instructors teach recreational and commercial users all year round on water as well as special courses such as first aid and engine maintenance.

Mr Vaughn concluded by saying, “Its lovely to see people’s faces when we show them how something should be done and it clicks and, for example, they don’t take four attempts to come in to moor, they do it first time every time.”

It wasn’t just the centre opening that Princess Anne performed whilst in Southam, as is usual practice on a Royal opening, Anne unveiled a commemorative plaque before being presented with a posy of flowers.

It can be assumed that the people of Southam really did push the boat out for their Royal visitor and didn’t give her a wide berth and what with Princess Anne being an accomplished unveiler of plaques, she really did know the ropes!

Northern Ireland Office/ Simon Graham/Harrisons

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