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British RoyalsThe Wessexes

Earl of Wessex celebrates volunteers who have changed society in Northern Ireland


Honouring the work of those making a difference in Northern Ireland was the focus of the Earl of Wessex’s last day in the country Thursday.

Starting off the morning, the Earl, who is Royal Colonel of the British Army’s 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 RIFLES) presented eight Long Service and Good Conduct Medals at Thiepval Barracks, the headquarters of the British Army in Northern Ireland. He chatted with soldiers and their families and heard more from the Battalion about their recent training exercise in Kenya.

Moving on to Hillsborough Castle, the Earl of Wessex, Trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, attended a ceremony where more than 50 young people received their Gold DofE Award. He spoke with the award recipients about their work and what a DofE Award means.

Cool FM radio presenter Rebecca McKinney presented the awards at the ceremony and shared her thoughts on the event in a video on the Royal Family Twitter account.

“It’s been so inspiring chatting to our young people and all of the things they’ve achieved, I literally wouldn’t know where to start,” she said. “It just sets them off for such a fabulous platform for the rest of their lives to encourage them to pursue their goals, to meet new people, and to work as a team.”

The Earl of Wessex then put on his adventuring hat as he helped the Belfast Activity Centre (BAC) celebrate their 30th anniversary. The charity “offers a range of outdoor adventures from hiking and caving to rock-climbing and abseiling” and over the past 30 years nearly half a million people have been given the chance to participate in educational and motivational adventure experiences by the BAC with the help of staff and volunteers.


“Every year there’s another generation of young people who are given the opportunity to come to the centre to get involved in activities they might otherwise not get involved with, in a completely neutral environment that continues to be really really important,” the Earl of Wessex said in a speech honouring volunteers at the event.

“So thank you. Thank you to all of you who have been involved with this, thank you to all of the volunteers who continue to staff, who continue to provide those facilities for those young people. And continue to reimagine it as well. It’s absolutely brilliant. I really can’t thank you enough and this is a moment just to – to give yourself a very good pat on the back and say well done.”

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.