PRINCE Andrew yesterday hailed the town’s new £53m flagship college for its drive to get young people into work.
Staff, students, governors and business people associated with the new £53m Hartlepool College of Further Education said the Prince was “down-to-earth” and impressed with what he saw.
The Duke of York, HRH Prince Andrew, enjoyed a tour of the state-of-the-art college campus, which he officially opened with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and signing of a visitors’ book.
He was also presented with a Joe Cornish picture of the historic Headland as a souvenir of his visit.
During a motivating speech to hundreds of students, who had taken time out of their half-term break to take part in the Royal visit, he acknowledged the “challenge” of the country’s level of young unemployed.
But he hailed the Hartlepool students’ commitment to their education and said: “It’s really heartening to see a college like this committed to giving young people that confidence to be able to go into the workplace.
“So I would like to wish all of the students every success not only in your education, but in your apprenticeships and wish you good luck as you endeavour in the world of work and also wish the staff here every success.”
College principal and chief executive Michael Bretherick told the Hartlepool Mail afterwards: “I’m very proud for the college, for the staff, for the students and for the people of Hartlepool.
“I think the college is a jewel in the crown of Hartlepool and it was good to have that marked in this way.”
The Duke, who was accompanied by Sir Paul Nicholson, The Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, arrived in town in a helicopter which landed near Mecca Bingo.
He was whisked to the college in a Range Rover, which was flanked by a lone police motorbike and two cars.
The Duke met town dignitaries before Beth Calvert, a 17-year-old Hartlepool Air Cadet and aerospace student at the college, had the honour of accompanying Prince Andrew on the tour.
He was ushered into a lecture room, where he spoke to students about their education and career ambitions.
The Duke was then taken on a tour of the building’s aircraft hangar, where he met local employers who support the college’s apprenticeship provision, as well as engineering students.
At one point, the Duke, who served as a pilot with the Royal Navy, boarded a vintage Jet Provost aircraft.
Then His Royal Highness arrived in the college’s atrium to hundreds of students who flanked the balconies of the building’s three floors, as well as staff and other supporters.
He deviated from the planned tour itinerary and talked to canteen staff, who were waiting alongside governors.