A royal lunch date for leader

Stephen Akers-Belcher

Stephen Akers-Belcher

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CIVIC chiefs from Hartlepool were among the guests invited to have lunch with the Queen during her whistle-stop tour of the region to mark the Diamond Jubilee.

Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, chair of the council, sat down alongside other civic chiefs from across the region for lunch with Her Majesty and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, at a formal reception at Durham Castle, in Durham, yesterday afternoon.

Canoeist Bethan Kelly, who met The Queen during the visit

Canoeist Bethan Kelly, who met The Queen during the visit

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “It was a huge honour and privilege to be able to represent Hartlepool and have lunch with the Queen at such a grand occasion.

“There was a lovely atmosphere at the lunch and it was a great day.”

His Consort for the year, Labour group leader councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, was also present at the three-course lunch.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “This was an amazing opportunity to be part of the Jubilee celebrations and it was quite surreal to be sat down eating lunch with the Queen sitting just feet away.”

Meanwhile, canoe champion Bethan Kelly (pictured left in action) from Hartlepool was among the guests at the Tees Barrage International White Water Centre, in Stockton, to watch the Queen officially open the multi-million pound facility.

The £4.6m barrage is being used as a pre-Olympic training centre.

Thousands of people lined the banks and Bethan, a pupil at High Tunstall College of Science in Hartlepool, paddled around the course before meeting Her Majesty.

The 15-year-old youngster was there alongside other members of the Tees Academy, which is a sports organisation for elite athletes in Teesside.

Bethan, who competes for Tees Tigers in canoe slalom, said: “It was awesome to meet the Queen and a real honour.”