HRH The Princess Royal met with staff, students, and local dignitaries during a visit to East Coast College’s Lowestoft campus.
The visit signalled the launch of the college’s new Athena Programme, which encourages women into careers in the energy sector working with local high schools, further education and sixth form students and local industry mentors. It also saw the launch of East Coast’s new Sustainability Strategy, presented by CEO and Principal Stuart Rimmer.
Among the invited guests were Mark Pendlington, Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk, Waveney MP Peter Aldous, the High Sheriff of Suffolk, Edward Creasy, and Suffolk County Council Chairman, Graham Newman.
During the visit on Thursday, December 16th, The Princess Royal was shown around the college’s state-of-the art Energy Skills Centre which delivers training for the engineering, maritime, energy and offshore sectors. She experienced one of the maritime bridge simulators and was invited to take the controls and steer a commercial vessel into the Port of Lowestoft under the new Gull Wing Bridge.
The Princess Royal spoke with two female renewable and energy apprentices about their offshore training and their experiences in the industry and met college students from the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) Energy Engineering Programme.
Her Royal Highness was invited to look around a display of work from art and design students themed around sustainability, followed by a demonstration in the Offshore Environmental Survival Tank, used to train those who work in extreme conditions in the Southern North Sea. Uniformed Public Services students carried out a training exercise jumping into the tank and using the life raft.
Staff and students from Ormiston Denes Academy in Lowestoft also spoke to The Princess Royal about their involvement with the Athena Programme Inspiration Events, building on their existing partnership with the college’s school STEM programme. They were joined by Alde Valley Academy in Leiston who recently won the greenest school award at the Suffolk Greenest County Awards in November.
The Princess Royal’s visit concluded at the college Wellbeing Garden where 12 apple trees were recently planted dedicated to The Queen’s Green Canopy in celebration of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. There she met with Foundation students who maintain the garden and three of the college’s mental health first aiders. A commemorative plaque dedicated to HRH The Princess Royal’s visit and Her Majesty’s Green Canopy initiative was unveiled in front of the civic guests.
Speaking after the visit, Mr Rimmer said: “To receive a visit from The Princess Royal is a great honour for the college, especially in these difficult times. The college is being recognised once again for its stunning commitment to students by our incredible, creative and compassionate staff. It’s been a real pleasure to show off our college and we are very proud to represent our town and our community.”