WIGAN’S award-winning Life Centre has been given the royal seal of approval after the Queen’s first cousin came a visiting.
Architectural expert The Duke of Gloucester arrived at the DW Stadium via helicopter and was taken to Wigan town hall, where he met staff and the designers of the neighbouring centre.
He also met members of the Wigan Forward Board, public service and community leaders before he was shown around the £217m complex which opened to the public in January.
While there, he discussed with staff the various services in residence there, including Victim Support and Wigan and Leigh Housing.
The Duke also chatted to children from Marsh Green Primary School and members of Craft and Chat who were knitting items in the library.
As he officially opened the site, unveiling a new plaque, he said: “It is a great pleasure to come to Wigan and be reminded of the historical connections of the area.
“You have a great feeling for history and for that reason we have a building which is wonderful and historic.
“It offers the best possible facilities the council can provide.
“For the benefit of the community, the council has chosen to put different departments very close together.
“As a trained architect, I can see the architectural role in putting complicated things together in a splendid building and the work is fully justified.
“I congratulate everyone who played a role in the creation of the Life Centre and wish everyone the best of luck.”
His Royal Highness was presented with a memorial plate celebrating Wigan’s iconic features by long-serving Wigan Council employee Mike Lancaster,
The royal party then moved to Amberswood Common in Ince where schoolchildren were making crafts in the new outdoor classroom.
The next leg of the whistlestop tour took in the new Bickershaw Marina off Plank Lane, and the Duke formally named it the Diamond Jubilee Marina ahead of the first phase of construction work alongside it later this year.
He also unveiled new information boards illustrating the rich history of the area.
He was guided by local experts from the council, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and the environmental charity Groundwork and met some of the people involved in restoration work.
And in the final example of how the borough’s regeneration has changed the landscape for the better, the Duke enjoyed the natural surroundings of Pennington Flash Country Park, Leigh.
As he has an active interest in conservation, he talked to bird-watchers and found out about the local wildlife.
Welcoming the Duke to the borough, Wigan Mayor, Coun Myra Whiteside, said: “It is a very special day for Wigan as we can show His Royal Highness the beautiful Wigan Life Centre, Amberswood, the Marina and the Flashes.
“It is nice to be able to show him that we have left our industrial past behind and we have these beautiful buildings and Greenheart spaces.
“It is also great to highlight that people who live in the borough are only a five minutes’ walk away from a green space.”