HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, visited a college for young people with disabilities to celebrate its successful first year.

The princess was joined by dignitaries from across Dorset to mark the first anniversary of Livability’s Millie College, in Poole, welcoming its first cohort of students.

Princess Anne, who is a patron of the charity, toured the college before she planted a Millie Rose, unveiled a plaque and signed a visitor book to commemorate the day.

The college provides post-16 education for young people with disabilities, aiming to bridge the gap between education and employment, while focusing on wellbeing.

Bournemouth Echo: Princess Anne signing the visitor book.

Based on a 350-acre site, it provides a mix of classroom and practical sessions, working in partnership with local businesses and organisations.

The college has seen its first cohort of students double in size in its first year.

Addressing the event, Princess Anne thanked staff for making the college an ‘extraordinary’ and ‘delightful’ place.

“It’s only a year ago when I joined Livability for a special event in the City of London, where the very first announcement of the post-16 college was shared with supporters,” Princess Anne said.

“I hope you would agree that a huge amount has been achieved in that space of time, and it’s a real pleasure being able to stand here and see this as a thriving centre with such a huge future in front of it.

“Places like this are rare. They are extremely popular for the way in which every individual who comes here, benefits from that experience.”

Bournemouth Echo: Princess Anne unveiling a plaque.

The princess finished: “I hope that all of you who have shared some of that vision and some of that journey will be equally as impressed with what has been achieved in this first year at Millie College and want to see it grow considerably in the future with your support.”

Before her arrival, the principal of the college, Jon Ascot, welcomed everyone to the event.

He said: “Today we enjoy the beautiful weather, we enjoy the beautiful site and we celebrate the efforts of all to realise our vision of a really well-recognised, high-class provision that is Livability Millie College.”

Bournemouth Echo: Princess Anne with college principal Jon Ascot and charity director of education, Adele Audin.

The event saw music from choir Sing People Sing, and short speeches from curriculum lead Aaron Gregory and wellbeing and pastoral lead Emma Browning.

Director of education for the charity, Adele Audin, described the college as a ‘special place’.

She said there is a ‘canyon’ between education and employment for many with disabilities.

“Millie College is a safe place where our learners can grow and experience a sense of security as they learn,” Adele said.

Bournemouth Echo: Princess Anne planting the Millie Rose.

“Our future growth, our ability to build a bridge over that canyon and implement real transformational change, is only limited by our ability to expand our facilities on this site.

“Today, we celebrate the work of our young people, their enterprise, their personal growth and their future.”

CEO of Livability Sally Chivers told of the heritage of the charity, which dates back to Ragged School Unions in the 1840s and spoke of the future of the college.

“We are limited purely by the amount of classroom space at the moment,” she said. “We do need some finance to get some of these demandable structures off the ground.

“Then we really would have no limits.”

Princess Anne was then presented with a bouquet of flowers by a student, James before she left the college.