A BOURNEMOUTH teenager has welcomed royal approval for a pioneering mental health project which supported her through a tough period in her life.

Suzie Duffy, 18, who lives in Southbourne, was one of a handful of volunteers who met Prince William and Kate Middleton earlier this month.

The royal couple were in Cornwall to look at the work of the Wave Project, which uses surfing to reduce anxiety and improve wellbeing in children.

They met children from the surf therapy charity and their mentors, watched them take part in surfing and lifesaving activities and met volunteers, staff and supporters.

One of the surf-mentors to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was Suzie, who won the Young Volunteer Award at last year's UK Surf Awards for her work with the charity.

She joined the Wave Project as a client in Bournemouth before becoming a volunteer.

“I was in a mental health hospital for eight months suffering from depression and anxiety and OCD," said Suzie.

“The Wave Project has decreased my anxiety. It took a lot for me to get out and put a wetsuit on and go out into the sea and be around so many people.

“I think it’s really great what William and Kate are doing for mental health because it needs to be talked about. For them to do it when they are so high up, it means people will listen.”

During her time as a patient at Pebble Lodge in Westbourne, Bournemouth, Suzie completed surfing courses with the Wave Project, and she has been volunteering there since, helping other young people with mental health difficulties.

Originally starting in Cornwall, the Wave Project came to Dorset in 2013 with support from Dorset HealthCare, which funded a successful pilot scheme.

The pilot worked with 20 young people facing mental health difficulties, and provided surfing lessons as a way to help individuals improve their self-esteem.

According to the trust the initial results were "hugely successful", with group members developing greater confidence and motivation, as well as learning a complex skill and keeping active.

The project was awarded funding by the National Lottery in 2014.