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Princess Anne visits Victoria Education Centre in Branksome
CHEERING students and staff waving Union Flags greeted Princess Anne when she visited the Victoria Education Centre in Branksome yesterday.
The Royal guest toured the school for children and young people with complex disabilities to mark the start of building work on a new £2.8million hydrotherapy pool funded by the Echo-backed Sparkle Appeal.
Along with local dignitaries she visited an art lesson, sports activities, and witnessed a hydrotherapy session in the current outdated pool.
Ceri Vosper, head of therapies and nursing at the centre, spoke to the Princess Royal at length about how vital the therapies were to the children.
She told the Echo: “She’s very empathic – and very practical, too – she was asking about the access to the water and the dignity element for the children.”
She added: “The new pool will make an absolutely massive difference. We’ll be able to get people in and out much quicker so everybody gets a fair go in the water.”
Student Kieren Collins did the official groundbreaking alongside the Princess.
She also chatted with students Sam Bird, 11, who showed off his My Tobii touch screen communicator, Ramon Hansford, 17, who has been at the school since he was two, and nine-year-old Sophie Pritchett who said meeting the Princess was “very special”.
Also in attendance at the centre were football manager Harry Redknapp, children’s television presenter Chris Jarvis and presenter Esther Rantzen, supporters of the school and national disability charity Livability, which runs it.
Princess Anne, herself the Patron of Livability, spoke in praise of the efforts of fundraisers and staff, adding: “My best wishes to those who will make the pool a reality. I look forward to coming back and seeing the finished item.”
She then unveiled a commemorative stone, which will take pride of place in the school grounds.
Principal Chris Davies said Princess Anne was a “committed supporter” of the school, which she last visited at the launch of the Sparkle Appeal.
Work will now get underway on the new pool, which should be ready for use by autumn next year.
But fundraising continues with phase two of the Sparkle appeal to fund a new therapy centre at the Lindsay Road school. To donate contact the appeal office on 01202 758 309 or email firstname.lastname@example.org