Belfast Telegraph

Crowds brave rain at ambulance station for glimpse of Prince Harry

Ballymena

By Rebecca Black

A buzz surrounded Ballymena Ambulance Station as Prince Harry made it his first stop on his debut visit to Northern Ireland.

Even the crew finishing a busy night shift got a fresh burst of energy at the prospect of meeting the popular royal.

Emergency medical technician William Graham finished work at 7.30am but was determined to stay on when he heard the news.

"We knew a special guest was coming but it wasn't until this morning that we found out who it was," he said.

"I have always wanted to meet Prince William and Prince Harry, so when I heard it was Prince Harry, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. He was very easy to talk to.

"The Ambulance Service never really gets this sort of publicity that he has brought us, you couldn't buy it."

Just a few yards away, William's wife Alison and daughter Hannah (3) were among the well-wishers waiting at the fence perimeter of the new facility in the hope of a glimpse of the prince.

"I just love the Royal family. We were at a garden party and saw Camilla once, but none of us have ever got to talk to a royal.

"(William) will be the first of us to get to speak to a royal," Alison told the Belfast Telegraph as they waited in the rain.

In the end, all three got to speak to the prince, after Harry insisted on a few minutes to say hello to the crowd.

Alison and Hannah spent a few moments chatting to him, with the youngster proudly telling the prince that her daddy worked in the ambulance station.

"He's lovely, he's just so warm and genuine. That's made my day," Hannah said.

Lauren Mark introduced her 13-month-old baby Harry - who had been delivered by the paramedics - to his namesake royal, and said: "He was lovely, so down to earth."

Meanwhile, Ballymena pensioners Elizabeth Flynn (far right) and Noreen Craig (right) were also among the crowd who turned out for the prince.

The pair had previously met Prince Charles at Glenarm and also Prince William and then-fiancee Kate Middleton in Belfast.

Elizabeth said: "I got to shake Prince William's hand and Kate's.

"I still feel good about that".

Inside the Ballymena station, the prince got a tour of the facilities and chatted with crew, at one point spinning around one member of crew who hung from the ceiling on a wire, in order to demonstrate a cliff rescue.

He unveiled a plaque to officially open the ambulance station.

As he left, the local MP Ian Paisley led a chorus of "hip hip hooray" in celebration of the visit.

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