A NEW £53m flagship college is set to welcome a Royal visitor next week.
The Duke of York, HRH Prince Andrew, will officially open Hartlepool College of Further Education next Thursday.
The regal visit will mark the completion of the state-of-the-art building, in Stockton Street, which opened its doors to students in September.
The Duke will get to see first-hand the impressive, modern features of the building, including hi-tech learning aids with suites of computers, electronic ‘blackboards’ in classrooms and a 220-seat lecture theatre, as well as the cutting edge tools in the college’s Skills Academy, which houses aircraft donated by 100 Squadron at RAF Leeming.
He will also get to see Premier League football-style hot and cold cryo spas, which are used by students on sports-related courses.
The Duke will arrive at the college at 10.30am on Thursday, accompanied by Sir Paul Nicholson, The Lord Lieutenant of County Durham.
They will be greeted by Councillor Carl Richardson, Chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council, the council’s acting chief executive, Nicola Bailey and town MP Iain Wright.
His Royal Highness will be escorted around the new building by Michael Bretherick, the college’s principal and chief executive, and Professor Aidan Mullan, chair of governors.
The Duke will visit the college’s Luminary fitness suite, the Tree of Remembrance, specialist engineering and design classes and will also meet local employers in the aircraft hangar who are key supporters of the college’s apprenticeship provision.
College bosses say he will no doubt pay particular attention to the Jet Provost planes and Gazelle Helicopter that he encountered during his service as a Royal Navy pilot.
Mr Bretherick said: “This is a signal of honour for the college and for the town.
“I am absolutely delighted that His Royal Highness The Duke of York will open the college next week.
“Our staff, students and partners are excited and pleased, and we look forward to providing him with a royal Hartlepool welcome.”
The tour will end in the college’s conference centre, where Prince Andrew will meet various groups of key partners of the college.
Mr Bretherick will welcome The Duke and invite him to unveil a plaque before signing a commemorative visitor’s book.