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Earl of Wessex visits Belfast coffee shop to celebrate 60 years of award

By Staff Reporter

Published 12/10/2016

The Earl of Wessex meets First Minister Arlene Foster and Justice Minister Claire Sugden at the Thinking Cup Coffee Shop in Belfast
The Earl of Wessex meets First Minister Arlene Foster and Justice Minister Claire Sugden at the Thinking Cup Coffee Shop in Belfast
The Earl of Wessex helps young people from Young Farmers and Beechlawn School plant a wildflower meadow at Hillsborough Castle
The Prince is greeted by pupils of Strangford College who have been taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme
The Earl of Wessex chats to gymnasts who performed a small routine

The Earl of Wessex popped in for a coffee yesterday as he paid a visit to Northern Ireland to mark 60 years since the founding of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

Edward was greeted at the Thinking Cup Coffee Shop on Belfast's Lisburn Road by the First Minister Arlene Foster and Justice Minister Claire Sugden.

Former prisoners convicted of armed robbery and assault are among those serving customers at the coffee shop.

The 12 ex-offenders are employed in a unique social enterprise business that aims to give young men and women a chance to turn their lives around.

It is hoped that providing employment and work skills over a year will help break the cycle of offending for them.

The Earl also visited Strangford College to see the pupils who have been taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme. During his visit the Earl got demonstrations in tent building and cooking, technology and sailing, as well as helping judge a Bake Off Competition.

And he also helped young people from Young Farmers and Beechlawn School plant a wildflower meadow at Hillsborough Castle with members of Ulster Wildlife. Edward also visited the Belfast Activity Centre (Bac) to celebrate the success of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

The charity's CEO Stephen Dickson said: "HRH has been a long standing supporter of Bac for over 25 years. In that time the centre has been a significant provider of training for young people on the award scheme as well as providing personal development opportunities for young people from disadvantaged areas. And through its abseiling events, BAC has helped to raise over £5m for local charities.

"On the visit, HRH was able to hear of the impact the award scheme has had on young people and see new and innovative programmes developed by the centre to continue changing lives and building futures."

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