Prince Harry gave Wigan’s community-based sports organisation the Royal seal of approval when he came to town.
The fifth in line to the throne spent time travelling to three different centres in Wigan; starting at Cast North West in Newburgh before moving on to the Blair Project in Ashton and concluding at Wigan Youth Zone.
His final stop-off was kept well under wraps until his arrival at 4pm.
Members were told to head down to the Parsons Walk facility a little earlier because a “special guest” would be paying them a visit.
The visits were in line with many others being made by the Prince to community groups, who are developing the life chances of young people through sports and leisure activities.
During his tour of the state-of-the-art Youth Zone facility, he met members who pay just 50p a visit to access a wide range of activities from football and rugby to climbing and skateboarding.
He learned about OnSide, Youth Zone’s approach to inspiring young people to get active, through a combination of engaging facilities that are designed around the way young people like to socialise, exciting activities and enthusiastic staff that act as positive role models, encouraging involvement.
For example, its ‘Try, Train, Team’ approach, encourages sustained participation in sporting activity by providing a pressure-free route to progression.
Prince Harry also took the opportunity to meet with two of the region’s business leaders who are supporting the growth of OnSide Youth Zones which are increasing in number across the country, founder Bill Holroyd and deputy chairman John Roberts.
They explained how a national network of Youth Zones is being established and discussed the charity’s plan to create facilities in 100 towns and cities across the UK, reaching young people most in need.
Kathryn Morley, chief executive of OnSide Youth Zones, said: “It was fantastic for the young people to meet Prince Harry and for him to hear first-hand how sport is supporting their personal development.
“Sport is not just about staying healthy. It also helps nurture the positive attitudes and life skills that can make all the difference to a young person’s confidence and prospects.”
See today’s (Wednesday) Wigan Evening Post for more pictures from Harry’s visit and next week’s Wigan Observer for a fanatastic eight-page supplement.