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Cheers for Kate on school visit

The Duchess of Cambridge brought fun to a playground on a visit to a primary school - and one excited little boy said he had "never seen a princess before".

Kate was at the Blessed Sacrament School in Islington, North London, to see the work of a project she launched to help families affected by addiction - a cause royal aides said is very important to her.

Her arrival attracted lots of onlookers keen to catch a glimpse of royalty while children sat cross-legged waving England flags and cheering.

Kate, wearing a coral dress by Goat, knelt down and chatted to the excited children, asking them about their favourite subjects and what they like most about school.

Five-year-old T'shai said he enjoyed it, adding: "Because I've never seen a princess before."

Nathan, also five, said he told Kate his favourite thing was "books", while Ezekiel, 4, said "lunchtime and playing".

Kate was joined by comedian John Bishop, with whom she launched the charity effort last year, and she spoke with people involved in a pilot programme for the school-based project M-PACT (Moving Parents and Children Together) Plus.

The initiative, funded by The Royal Foundation and Comic Relief, and delivered by charities Place2Be and Action on Addiction, of which the Duchess is a patron, aims to provide early support for schoolchildren affected by a parent's drug or alcohol misuse.

Bishop had the Duchess giggling at the end of the visit when he appealed to the press not to focus on what the "style icon" was wearing, where the clothes were from or what hairstyle was in place - but to focus on the project.

"Basically, don't make the story about me," he joked.

Speaking about his passion for the issue, Bishop said a lot of it is down to how "fleeting" childhood is, adding: "We haven't got the time to waste."

The comedian said he and Kate discussed parenthood. Not so long ago he had a little baby and now he has a "bloke with a beard" - again prompting laughter from the Duchess and small crowd gathered in the school dining hall.

Bishop said Kate is "genuinely committed" to the issue, and hailed the involvement of the Royal Foundation.

"What's good about it is that it will hopefully de-stigmatise the whole area.

"Addiction doesn't care what social class you're from. It's across the board. The levels of addiction in Knightsbridge will be as high, if not higher, than some of the most deprived areas in the country," he said.

"I think, from the brief conversations I've had with her, she's committed to it as a person and probably even more so now as a mother, because you realise children are such fragile things and you've got to try and support them when they're at their weakest."

Kate attended an M-PACT Plus steering group meeting to discuss progress made so far across the programme and specifically in the initial pilot sites: Manchester and Salford, the North East, London and Essex.

She then had a meeting with headteachers and a private meeting with children to hear more about the mental health support services offered at the school.

It is estimated that three million children in the UK are living with parental drug and alcohol misuse, according to Comic Relief.

This new partnership has seen Place2Be school staff trained by Action on Addiction to identify and support families affected by these issues.

A two-year programme is being piloted in four areas of England, with the aim of larger-scale delivery of the programme in schools in the future.

Kevin Cahill, chief executive of Comic Relief, said: "Children who are affected by parents with addiction are particularly vulnerable, so it's fantastic to be here today to meet the people working hard to ensure that they and their families are getting the support that they need in school."

Nick Booth, chief executive of The Royal Foundation, said: "By equipping teachers and school staff with the skills and confidence to address these issues with children and families, we aim to demonstrate the value and importance of intervening early, reducing the long term impact on children, and enabling them to fulfil their potential in life."

Nick Barton, chief executive of Action on Addiction, said: "Children of problem substance users are seven times more likely to develop problems themselves but can receive little support despite being so at risk. Our collaboration with Place2Be enables us to provide young people and families with the specialised support they need."

Catherine Roche, chief executive of Place Be, said: "When we, together with the school are able to intervene early we can support children and enable more parents to tackle these issues, the whole family benefits from improved health and wellbeing and an improved ability to cope and succeed in their lives."

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