In a second surprise appearance from The Duchess of Cambridge this week, she joined William and Harry at a Coach Core event today, which involved sports activities – with Royals joining in – and a graduation ceremony.
At the London Stadium – once used for the 2012 Olympics – the royal trio were welcomed to the ceremony, which celebrates the young people, 16-24, who have trained on the Coach Core apprenticeship, creating sports coaches, positive role models and mentors in their communities. There is also a strong emphasis on employability.
150 ‘graduates’ from Coach Core groups in Glasgow, Essex, South Wales and London were celebrating the end of their training, with a little help from William, Kate and Harry.
The trio is in fact responsible for the creation of the programme: Coach Core was founded by The Royal Foundation in 2012, as something of a legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Royals began by chatting with those who delivered the programme, as well as the participants, before the sports came in. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined Judy Murray in a tennis masterclass, while Prince Harry took part in a rugby session. Other classes taking place included basketball and gymnastics with Max Whitlock.
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Mrs Murray, who coached her son Andy to his success, said: “To have the backing of the Princes and the Duchess is amazing and a huge inspiration for all the young people.
“The Prince and the Duchess are very sporty, both of them, and I’m sure they will be keen for their kids to enjoy sport as well,” she said, mentioning the tips she was giving Kate regarding early years tennis training, such as using balloons and bean bags.
William and Catherine were given gifts by West Ham’s captain, Mark Noble, as they visited the London Stadium, alongside Prince Harry. The couple were handed claret and blue football shirts, emblazoned on the rear with George and Charlotte’s names and ages – four and two, respectively.
Prince William, an Aston Villa fan, joked: “Right colours, wrong team.”
Mr Noble spoke to the press after he met the Royals: “We know that William’s an Aston Villa fan so whether it gets put on or not I don’t know. Whether they’ll let George do that I don’t know! It was a gesture from us as a welcome to the club really.
“We were talking about the new stadium, football and what West Ham coming to the stadium has done for the area. It’s so nice to speak to the royals. For 99 per cent of the population they are figures from afar.
“I told my little girl, who’s only eight, that I was coming to meet the royals and she was so jealous. I can’t wait to show her photos. She’ll think I’m more of a great dad now than I was yesterday.”
He added: “For me, getting kids doing sport instead of sitting in front of computers is great. We need to do more of this stuff to get people active.”
The success of Coach Core has been such that the programme is to expand into new areas, such as Bristol, Middlesbrough and Devon. 98% of graduates go into full-time employment or education.
Prince William met a recently-trained swim coach, and asked her for some help teaching his children. “He offered me a job teaching his kids to swim,” explained Alex Ferrier, 22. “I said I might take him up on that!”
Alex Hazael, who moved from Alicante to Brentwood to take part in the scheme, said of the Royals’ scheme: “They’re encouraging a lot of the younger generation with the Royal Foundation, they’ve really given us the opportunity to express ourselves.”
It was then into the stadium centre for the graduation ceremony; Prince Harry addressed the crowd.
“We believe that our graduates here today really are the future of coaching,” the Prince said. “They have each been on a unique journey, designed to build on their existing skills to equip them with the tools to be effective role models and mentors in their communities.
“I’d like to close by saying a huge congratulations to the graduates on your achievement. You have dedicated yourself, alongside your fellow apprentices, investing blood, sweat and tears to become not just a great coach, but a great employee, mentor and leader in your community.
“I have no doubt that for those graduating, this will have been tough at times. Many of you have told us your stories – many of you faced hardships along the way, and some of you were even told you would not succeed.
“William, Catherine and I, and everyone involved in the Coach Core Programme are incredibly proud of you,” the speech finished.
The trio posed on stage for photos with the graduates, wrapping up their day.