A Prince among Wiganers

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PRINCE Edward officially opened Wigan’s University Technical College.

The Earl of Wessex arrived at the Parsons Walk academy yesterday (Monday) and was given a guided tour before unveiling a specially made plaque.

HRH Prince Edward, left, visits Wigan UTC (University Techical College) at the official opening

HRH Prince Edward, left, visits Wigan UTC (University Techical College) at the official opening

He was around an hour late for the engagement after poor weather meant his helicopter could not land at the DW Stadium as planned and had to touch down in Liverpool instead.

However, the Earl still spent the full amount of time inside meeting staff and students, who all started on September 1.

Addressing the gathering, His Royal Highness said: “Congratulations to everyone for turning this idea into a reality.

“You are all pioneers in this new venture and I wish the very best of luck to all the new students here.

“There is a huge expectation, not just to be pioneers here, but to make sure you all to go on and do even greater things in the future.”

The UTC will offer 14 to 18-year-olds the opportunity to take a highly regarded, full-time, technically oriented course of study.

Students integrate national curriculum requirements with the technical and vocational elements with both the ethos and curriculum heavily influenced by local and national employers who also provide support and work experience for students.

Local Wigan businessmen Martin Ainscough and Bernard Edmunds have taken up roles as chairman and director of commercial development respectively with Mr Ainscough a big funder.

Inside the one-time council building, gas showroom and mill is a wealth of practical facilities with the UTC specialising in subjects that require technical and modern equipment, for example, engineering, product design, health sciences, construction, and land and environmental services.

At the very top is one of only four vertical farms in the world, which will be used to grow crops. One idea is that these will be used in soups and sauces with the students then going out to sell them to local businesses.

After enjoying his tour of the UTC, the Prince then headed next door to see the Wigan Youth Zone, of which he was equally impressed.