William hails ‘inspirational’ cross community initiative in Londonderry

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Prince William has hailed an “inspirational” cross community sporting initiative in Londonderry.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made their maiden visit to Derry on Wednesday where they met the first medical students at Ulster University before meeting those involved with the Sport Uniting Communities initiative.

William described receiving a warm welcome to the city – and some Irish whiskey which he said “went down very well”.

The trip, which came just hours after the couple attended the world premiere of the new James Bond movie No Time To Die, started at the Ulster University’s Magee campus.

They were shown a specially designed simulated ambulance, the only one of its kind in the region, built on campus to train the very first-year group studying the new BSc Hons paramedic science programme in Northern Ireland.

William and Kate also met a group of student nurses from the university they spoke to, via a video call, in February, when they heard about their experiences taking part in hospital placements during the pandemic.

They also learned how students are able to unwind from their studies, with a visits from mobile zoo company KidzFarm and the Student Union’s “Culture Shock” event designed to introduce new students to the city.

Royal visit to Londonderry
The Duchess of Cambridge handles a tarantula called Charlotte (Chris Jackson/PA)

Kate won admiration by her handling of a tarantula spider called Charlotte, while William joked their son George would be upset he had missed it as he met a snake.

They were fortified with a measure of whiskey for the duke and a half pint of Guinness for the duchess before sampling local food and drink, learning how to pronounce Irish names and some of the local expressions in the city.

They rounded off their trip by hailing a “truly inspirational” cross-community sporting initiative.

William and Kate visited City of Derry Rugby Club where they met with players, coaches and volunteers from the Sport Uniting Communities initiative.

The project is a collaboration between the Irish Football Association, Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association and Ulster Rugby and aims to promote peace and reconciliation.

William and Kate watched children playing mini rugby, football and Gaelic games before getting involved themselves by kicking a ball at a giant-sized dartboard.

Royal visit to Londonderry
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the City of Derry rugby club (Tim Rooke/PA)

They then went to the clubhouse to speak to some of the coaches and organisers behind the initiative.

Before leaving, William told those in attendance that it was positive to see young people coming together in sport.

He thanked all involved and said they had loved looking around.

“We were at the university beforehand and it was lovely to see everyone there,” he said.

“We had a very warm welcome and a bit of Irish whiskey as well, which went down extremely well.

“I can tell you it wasn’t before lunchtime, it was later but it certainly warmed you up for the day.

Royal visit to Londonderry
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge talking with medical students (Chris Jackson/PA)

“We are really impressed with what you’ve achieved here, seeing all the smiling faces outside, running around, joining in the sports and having a really good time it is fantastic.

“I think seeing the communities come together and be able to work together, play together, have fun together, it is a really strong message you are sending out here.

“On the back of a pandemic is not the easiest time to be doing all this, but hopefully it refocuses minds about what is important in life and what you are doing here is truly inspirational.”

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