Kate Middleton launches new charity programme at Manchester primary school
23 APRIL 2013Kate Middleton started her busy week of engagements on Tuesday with a visit to Willows Primary School in Wythenshawe, Manchester. The Duchess, who is six months pregnant, beamed as she and comedian John Bishop to meet children and teachers before planting a tree in the school's grounds.
Kate arrived at Wilmslow train station wrapped in a beige coat before revealing her bump in Erdem's 'Sophia Floral Print' silk dress, priced at £1,065, when she arrived at the school. The mum-to-be was presented with a doggy hamper for her Cocker Spaniel, Lupo, by members of the excited crowd bearing fitting St. George's Cross flags on England's national day.
"Delighted to welcome HRH the Duchess of Cambridge & @JohnBishop100 to Willows Primary School," tweeted Place2Be, the charity Kate recently became a patron of. "Launching our exciting new M-Pact plus project!"
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Pregnant Kate chatted to students and families as she helped kick-start the new scheme which helps children who have been affected by parental addiction before giving a speech on the subject.
"Incredibly moving & inspiring launch," tweeted Benita Refson OBE, Place2Be's chief executive. "HRH Duchess of Cambridge announces our partnership with @ActionAddiction with 'Pride and excitement.'"
"Last year I asked The Royal Foundation, which I share with William and Harry, what coule be done to help these children," said Kate during her three minute address. "In partnership with our foundation, Comic Relief work to explore this issue."
"Today it gives me an enormous feeling of pride and excitement," added Kate. "To lauch a programme that will bring this research to life."
Kate and John also met those who have already taken part in programmes run by Place2Be and enjoyed a tour of the school including the newly refurbished playground, rebuilt by residents following a devastating arson attack.
The Duchess of Cambridge had been due to see the playground and climbing frame, known as 'The Fort', which was destroyed in the fire.
"It has been so overwhelming" said headteacher Emily Smith of the locals' recovery effort. "It's restored my faith. People just turned up out of nowhere to help clear the place up."
Everyone connected with the school, which is also the set of Channel 4 show Shameless, was horrified when arsonists set fire to their £40,000 playground two weeks ago, just hours after they revealed they were to welcome a royal guest.
Following the blaze, local residents and businesses, as well as staff at Willows Primary, decided to pull out all the stops and recreate as much of the playground as possible in time for Kate's visit, covering the area with rubber matting and clearing the debris.
"We're determined to rebuild The Fort with the help of the local community and others," said teacher Ann Whitehead on 12 April. "And have had offers already from companies wanting to help us with this."
"We were all devastated when we heard about the fire," she added. "But we're not going to let them beat us."
Following her appearance in Manchester Kate will head to a charity reception at the National Portrait Gallery on Wednesday and the Warner Bros. Studios on Friday. The Duchess will be joined by her husband, Prince William, and brother-in-law, Prince Harry, for the studio tour with around 500 guests from their charities.