William and Kate pay mental health group anniversary visit on Highlands trip
The Prince and Princess of Wales thrilled well-wishers with an impromptu display of their bike skills during a mini-tour of the north of Scotland.
Excited crowds cheered William and Kate on as they donned crash helmets and rode bikes around a series of ramps and other obstacles laid out in community gardens during a visit to Burghead, Moray.
The couple (pictured) were visiting the town to learn more about the work of charity Outfit Moray, which arranges outdoor learning and adventure activity programmes such as mountain biking for young people to boost their confidence and self-esteem.
They spoke to the chief executive of the charity and a group of schoolchildren before boarding their bikes, with William asking children questions including what sports they enjoy and what football teams they support.
He was later overhead to say he found a see-saw on a bike “tricky”, but both he and Kate managed to complete the circuit unscathed, encouraged by shouts of “Go on, William” from well-wishers.
Hundreds of people lined the town’s main street to catch a glimpse and take pictures of the couple as they then made their way to Burghead Primary School, where they watched bike feats performed by children in the playground.
William answered questions put to him by pupils, including one who asked if he had brought any of the King’s Guards with him, while Kate volunteered to time a bike race between a few of the other children.
Another child cheekily asked William how old he is, and when the prince asked back what age the pupils think he is, he acted shocked when they replied 57, and said: “I’m not that old.”
The royal couple came dressed for traditional Scottish weather, with Kate wearing a padded jacket and jeans and William in a wax jacket and chinos as the sky threatened rain.
However the rain held off long enough for the pair to finish their conversations ahead of the school bell going off, which they took as their signal to leave.
Outfit Moray chief executive Tony Brown said after their departure: “It’s our 20th anniversary this year and what a great way to celebrate that milestone and look forward to another 20 years.
“Since the Covid pandemic we’ve seen a significant rise in mental health issues with young people, particularly around anxiety and loss of confidence.
“Being outdoors in nature and doing physical things is really good for mental health.
“Gettting as many young people out on our programmes as possible is a way of helping those that might be facing challenges.”
Moray Council leader Kathleen Robertson said meeting William and Kate is something the schoolchildren will remember fondly for the rest of their lives.
“I think it’s a real delight for the kids and a real treat for them to meet royalty in real life,” she said.
“I remember the Silver Jubilee in 1977 and King Charles coming to Quarrier’s Village in Renfrewshire.
“I saw him when I was five in a crowd like you see here today and that has lived with me my whole life.
“These kids will remember this for the rest of their lives.”
Burghead Primary School acting head Martin Collins said he overheard William and Kate speaking to a person assisted through hard times by Outfit Moray and found them to be deeply interested in the charity’s work.
“It was really nice to meet them, they were really relaxed right from the word go,” he said.
“Prince William was very engaged and very interested in the wonderful job Outfit Moray do.
“It was lovely to see them getting on their bikes, the audience just loved that.
“It was wonderful for the children to have this experience. It was fabulous to see.
“There will be a wonderful feeling around Burghead tonight, for sure.”
The mental health theme of William and Kate’s day-long tour continued as they visited Brodieshill Farm, near Forres.
They learned about the support being offered to young people at the business, run by Robert Manson and his wife Nicola, along with his parents Colin and Irene.
The couple met members of Lower Speyside Young Farmers and Farmstrong Scotland representatives to speak about their work promoting positive mental health in rural communities.
Lucy McGillivray, who farms at Glenlivet, Moray, and is a National Farmers Union Scotland representative, said William and Kate were interested in her farming journey as well as the impact of recent floods on the region.
She said: “A couple of members lost their lives in the flooding and there has been a huge amount of financial loss; for example, fields of crops worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“I just really explained the impact of the flooding and they were asking where I lived and about the subsidies.
“They were just lovely people – really down to earth.”
William and Kate also met families based nearby at RAF Kinloss and Lossiemouth who attend the farm’s indoor and outdoor play areas.
As the 45-minute visit drew to a close, a beaming Kate could not resist playing with the young attendees, running about searching for pumpkins on the grounds.
Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2023, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Callum Mackay / Highland News & Media / PA.