PRINCE Charles came face-to-face with the pride of Wearside on a visit to Sunderland yesterday.
The Prince of Wales toured Sunderland’s Nissan plant, to see the all-electric Leaf family car being built, chatted with students getting an insight into the world of work at the Gateshead College-run Global Training Centre next to the factory and then met some teenage volunteers taking part in a citizenship scheme he supports.
Prince Charles toured the plant before meeting schoolchildren and apprentices at the Gateshead College-operated Global Training Centre next to the factory.
Fourteen-year-old Venerable Bede Academy pupil Krista Shaw was among the pupils on a week-long visit to the centre as part of the nationwide Industrial Cadets scheme, of which Prince Charles is a keen supporter.
“My friend told me Prince Charles was coming – she had the article on her phone, she was that excited,” she said.
“So I did know he was coming, but I did not think I would get to meet him – it was absolutely unbelievable. He was asking about what we were doing and how this would help us in the future.”
Classmate Jack Hamill was taken aback to find himself chatting with the VIP visitor.
“It was a fantastic experience,” he said.
“I did not expect him to talk to us.”
Gateshead College principal Judith Doyle said the visit was proof of the impact the new training centre was making a name for itself.
“It is a very proud day and a great day for us,” she said. “We have fantastic facilitates here that are really impacting with young people. This is about the kind of hi-tech, digital IT skills these young people enjoy.” Nissan Europe chairman Paul Willcox was on hand to escort the Prince around the plant.
“This visit raises the profile of Nissan but it is also great for the employees here in Sunderland,” he said.
“It shows we can be proud of what we deliver here.” After leaving Nissan, the Prince joined Olympic boxer Amir Khan to visit the Bethany Church in Ashbrooke’s Bede Tower and meet youngsters taking part in courses with the National Citizen Service. Sixteen-year-old John Cooper, from High Barnes, showed the Prince round. “It was fantastic – he was so nice and down to earth,” said St Aidan’s Catholic Academy pupil John.
“He really seemed to enjoy chatting to the people doing the different social activities and the staff. He was talking about all the different things we do in the community.”
Pastor David Burke said the visit was the perfect end to the church’s first 12 months. The National Citizen Service courses were part of the church’s wider vision, he said.
“The Prince visiting is the icing on the cake for us – we have had a really great year.”