All smiles as Prince Charles meets coastguards officers

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall make flying visit to Torbay - with smiles all around

Jim Parker

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall brought smiles all round on a visit to Torbay.

Prince Charles, Commodore of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and the Duchess first met staff and volunteers at the agency's 200th anniversary celebration event at Torre Abbey on Torquay seafront.

The Royal couple were introduced to a number of local dignitaries before being introduced to Director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes, Deputy Chief Coastguard Helen McCaffrey, Assistant Chief Coastguard Matt Leat and HM Coastguard’s Assistant Director, Policy & Standards, Julie-Anne Wood, and Area Commander, Drew Parkinson

They were then introduced to coastguard rescue officers representing the South Devon region and enjoyed various displays demonstrating what the service does.

The Duchess with the Rowcrocft team
The Duchess with the Rowcrocft team

The Duke and Duchess met the crew of the coastguard’s search and rescue helicopter based at Newquay and Prince Charles presented a Jubilee medal to Keith Dare-Williams, who is the longest serving current coastguard rescue officer and receiving it on behalf of the entire service. He has completed 57 years’ service.

The Duke met some of the 17 Devon Platinum Champions, including dementia campaigner and Torbay Weekly columnist Norrms McNamara, before meeting a group of staff and volunteers from Rowcroft Hospice and the Wild Planet Trust from Paignton Zoo.

Norrms McNamara and the Duchess
Norrms McNamara and the Duchess

It was then off to Cockington and Cockington Court for the Royal couple

Charles met with young people supported by The Princes Trust as well as the chairman of the International Agatha Christie Festival, a local artist and museum curator. The couple visited local craft shops.

The Duke met people who have been supported by The Prince’s Trust across the Torbay area.

He met with individuals who have taken part in Team, a 12-week personal development programme which helps develop self-confidence, leadership and employability skills. The Prince of Wales also met staff and volunteer supporters of The Prince’s Trust, and participants of The Trust’s Get into programme, which helps young people gain experience with top employers and become job ready.

The Prince of Wales meets representatives and young people of The Prince’s Trust as he visits Cockington Court
The Prince of Wales meets representatives and young people of The Prince’s Trust as he visits Cockington Court

Angel Peagam, 17, from Torquay, struggled with agoraphobia which impacted her social skills, anxiety and made it difficult to have a steady education.

Angel said: “Before taking part in the Team programme I did not go outside much and struggled with social settings. My time on the programme has been great; it has improved my confidence, helped with my anxiety, and my social life too! After this programme, I look forward to finishing college and start working.”

Kelby Seatherton, 17, from Paignton, faced personal barriers and joined the Team programme to meet people and try new experiences.

Kelby said: “I really enjoyed taking part in the Team Programme. It boosted my confidence and improved my team working skills. I have also made great friends along the way!”

The Prince’s Trust Team programme is run in the Torbay area in partnership with Eat That Frog, a community interest company working with a wide range of people and organisations. Their mission is to enable people to unlock or recognise their potential to contribute to the local community whilst overcoming or managing barriers in their life.

Hannah Rendle, Delivery Partner Manager at Eat That Frog, said: "Eat That Frog have been working in partnership with The Prince’s Trust to deliver the Team Programme over the past three years. It has been great to be able to work with The Prince’s Trust and offer a variety of programmes across Torbay to support young people with their skills, confidence, and motivation.”

Prince Charles also met Sophie McIlwaine, 28, a young business owner who set up her art business in November 2020 through The Trust’s Enterprise programme.

Sophie said: “I knew that I wanted to research and draw historic buildings, but I did not see myself as an entrepreneur and lacked the confidence to promote myself. Before doing the Enterprise course, I had no idea how to run a business. The Prince’s Trust has been instrumental: my mentor has helped me to clarify my ideas into concrete action, and the regular online workshops have built my entrepreneurship knowledge. With the support of The Trust, I now feel capable of building a business that I am excited about – one that I hope will have a positive impact in raising awareness and funds for the conservation of old buildings.”

Daniel Phillips, Service Delivery Manager at The Prince’s Trust said: "It has been an honour to have His Royal Highness with us today to hear directly from the young people about how The Prince’s Trust has helped turn their lives around. It has been a privilege to showcase how His Trust has supported young people in the Torbay area for more than 40 years, and it is incredibly rewarding to see first-hand how these programmes transform people’s lives.”