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Kate makes first solo visit to Northern Ireland and visits Scotland in support of 5 Big Questions


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The Duchess of Cambridge took her 5 Big Questions survey to Northern Ireland and Scotland on Wednesday, revealing that over 200,000 people in the UK have taken her landmark survey in support of her Early Years Programme.

Kate was greeted by Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Arlene Foster, as she landed in Belfast before travelling to the Ark Open Farm near Belfast, meeting with children, parents and grandparents to discuss the early years. The Farm, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, provides young people with a vast outdoor area—set on 40 acres—to learn, play and see animals.

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The Farm’s owner, Stewart Donaldson, revealed to the Belfast Telegraph that they were excited by Kate’s visit, and that “It was quite a job keeping [it] secret. We had only 10 days notice.”

Claire Savage, a parent who brought her daughter Alexa to the Farm, told the Telegraph, “I think the parents are more excited than the kids. I’ve always wanted to meet Kate and say hello. I don’t think the kids know what’s going on.”

The Duchess was given a tour of the Farm by Donaldson and joined in with the children from two local nurseries and schools who were meeting the animals, including bottle-feeding a baby lamb and holding a snake, telling the little girls next to her, “This is the first time I ever held a snake like this, how cool is that?”

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Before leaving, Kate unveiled a plaque to commemorate her visit and the Farm’s 30th anniversary.

Kensington Palace announced on Tuesday that William and Kate will visit Ireland next month, from 3-5 March, on their first official visit to the country.

Later in the day, the Duchess of Cambridge travelled to Aberdeen to visit the Social Bite café to hear how homelessness can be affected by the early years of a person’s life.

Speaking to reporters, Matt Thomas, a Social Bite employee said, “She made you feel very much at ease very quickly. She’s very interested in you as a person and finding out what your experience is.”

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He said that he valued how Kate would take time out of her day to speak with them and that he enjoyed teaching her how to make wraps, “I make them every day but I think hers was better looking than mine.”

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Kate gave a speech about the 5 Big Questions survey, saying:

“Over the last eight years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life, facing all sorts of challenges. What has struck me most is that so often the challenges people face in later life, whether mental health, homelessness or family breakdown – can so often be traced back to experiences in their earliest years.

“It prompted me to delve deeper into the early years landscape and learn more from the experts, the scientists and the amazing people providing services on the ground. But now is the time to get the views from everyone in society.

“I wanted to hear directly from people across the UK, and it’s great to have been able to talk to people in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and across England about their experiences. I want to thank the 200,000 people who have filled it out because each and every response will help show us what society really thinks about raising the next generation. I am excited to hear from even more people before it closes on 21st February.”

Kate launched the 5 Big Questions survey last month and has undertaken whirlwind tours of the UK in support of it ever since. She visited Birmingham, Cardiff and Surrey within a 24-hour period when the survey launched; and has also visited London and southern Wales to support it as well.

The survey is up for a few more weeks for UK-based adults to fill out. Click here to take the survey.



About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.