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The Duke of Kent visits day centre in Ilford

Tuesday morning saw the Duke of Kent dropping in to the “excellent” day centre – the Welcome Centre in Ilford. His Royal Highness met volunteers, clients and praised the staff there.

The day centre has worked with vulnerable people in Redbridge since 2000. The charity is known for helping people turn their life around. One such positive story is that of Karan Cameron, 48, who came to the day centre in 2008.

Support worker, Jennifer Fletcher-Simms had nothing but praise for Ms Cameron: “You wouldn’t recognise Karan now.

“She’s come such a long way, and I’m so proud for her.

“We wanted her to meet the Duke today as she has worked so hard to transform her life.

“She’s absolutely brilliant.”

The Duke met community members from Redbridge including council leader, Cllr Jas Athwal; chief executive, Andy Donald; and Thomas Chan, the deputy lieutenant. Redbridge’s Mayor, Cllr Gurdial Bhamra told the Ilford Recorder: “It’s an honour to bring a royal guest here.

“The Welcome Centre is one of my charities, so I’m very pleased to highlight the hard work that goes on.”

He also met volunteers during his tour of the facilities. Manager Sonia Lynch and managing director Phil Herbert had the distinct pleasure of showing him around. Mr Herbert said: “I have been looking forward to meeting him since we learnt that he was coming about two weeks ago.

“We are delighted to highlight the hard work that goes on here.”

His Royal Highness also met Carlene Grant, the longest-serving volunteer. Ms Grant lives in Ilford and has been with the day centre for fourteen years. She told the Ilford Recorder: “I started volunteering when I retired from work 14 years ago, and I never left.

“It’s hard work sometimes, but you just have to give thanks.

“It’s very rewarding.”

Along with visiting the day centre, the Duke also dined with staff and students at Redbridge College at Rouge, an award-winning restaurant.

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