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In pictures: Duke of Edinburgh goes chocolate tasting and tries his hand at rowing during Cambridgeshire visit





HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, dropped in at Harry Specters, a chocolate company based at Cambridgeshire Business Park in Ely which creates employment opportunities for young autistic people, on Wednesday morning (April 12) and then later went on to Bar Hill to visit the Cambridgeshire DofE Open Award Centre.

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell

Other attendees at His Royal Highness’ first port of call included the mayor of the City of Ely, the chair of Cambridgeshire County Council, local Member of Parliament Lucy Frazer and Stephen Muers and Unltd CEOs Stephen Muers and Mark Norbury respectively.

Harry Specters, a social enterprise celebrating its 10th anniversary, provided almost 30,000 employment hours and more than 1,800 work experience hours for young autistic people between 2018 and 2021. It also recently won Aldi’s Next Big Thing on Channel 4.

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell

Mona Shah, who co-founded the company with her husband Shaz (their autistic son Ash is also heavily involved, inspiring the venture and coming up with the name), spoke to the Cambridge Independent following the royal visit. “It went amazingly well,” she said, “we’re so honoured that His Royal Highness took the time to come here.

“The team were really, really excited and looking forward to it and I think the day’s gone really well.”

The visit was arranged by Julie Spence, the Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, who is the ambassador and a “very loyal customer” of Harry Specters. Mona continued: “His Royal Highness really wants to find out more about British companies and small businesses, small enterprises in different areas of the country, and he does try to go and visit as many of those as he can.”

During his visit, the duke learned about the history of the firm, chatted to some of the employees and tasted some of the chocolate. “Apple cinnamon was the first one that he picked,” revealed Mona, noting that he was also keen on trying the mango raspberry and enjoyed the passion fruit and lemongrass. “He said that was a really nice strong flavour.”

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Harry Specters in Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell

In the afternoon, following a visit to The Viva Theatre in Soham, the duke went to Bar Hill Village Hall to visit the Cambridgeshire DofE Open Award Centre. Patron of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award charity, he met with volunteers and young people making a difference through their DofE.

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham

The Cambridgeshire Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Open Award Centre is a registered charity which delivers all the levels of the DofE Award to young people in Cambridgeshire. Present at the event was Imogen Grant, an Olympic rower and University of Cambridge medical student.

“It was a massive honour,” she said, “I was part of the St Ives Duke of Edinburgh Award group and did my bronze, silver and gold with the centre and really enjoyed it, and the opportunity to come back today and be able to celebrate that was just a real privilege.

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham

“I think for me as a teenage girl, a lot of girls don’t end up doing physical activity and actually the physical section of my DofE was one of the biggest motivations to keep me active.

“So it kept me in the right shape that by the time I found rowing at university, it was something that I was really interested in and wanted to pick up and I’ve now been to the Olympics for rowing and had I not been confident enough to start at that very first taster session, then I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham

Imogen added: “His Royal Highness was absolutely fantastic today, such a good sport - sat on the rowing machine with me and with some of the other participants who are currently doing their Duke of Edinburgh Awards and rowed a few strokes with us. It was just an amazing experience.”

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh has a go on a rowing machine with Olympic rower Imogen Grant. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh has a go on a rowing machine with Olympic rower Imogen Grant. Picture: Richard Marsham

Kian Allen-McRunnel, a year 10 student, is currently doing his DofE silver. He said: “I managed to speak to him [the duke], which was quite nice. I planted a pansy and he engraved his name on a plant pot which I’ve donated to the care home which I work at.”

Kian, a Cambridge resident, works as a volunteer gardener at the care home as part of his DofE and was at the centre in Bar Hill doing a presentation. He is also learning sign language and plans to take up rowing for his physical challenge.

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham

What did Kian speak about with His Royal Highness? “I showed him the plants and I did offer him a pair of gloves but he said he didn’t mind getting his hands dirty,” came the reply. “He planted a few plants and I told him how engraving worked.”

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham
HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visits Bar Hill to speak to local groups taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme. Picture: Richard Marsham

[Read more: Prince Edward kicks off global Duke of Edinburgh Award tour in Cambridge]

For more on the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, visit dofe.org.



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