The Duke of Edinburgh was in Northern Ireland today for a series of engagements. The day started at Hillsborough Castle he presented Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards to around 100 young people.
After that he visited the new Belfast Activity Centre boathouse, beside Shaw's Bridge, where he performed the official opening. My department provided much of the money for the boathouse and I was delighted to be there and to meet him. The boathouse was designed by Dawson Stelfox, who is also patron of the BAC, and it fits in beautifully and naturally with the surroundings. There is a stone indicating that it was built in 2009 but a number of people thought that it was actually an old building that had been restored. As well as being aesthetically pleasing it is extremely functional and able to cope with the needs of desabled young people, who want to use the canoes and kayaks.
From there we travelled the short distance to the main Belfast Activity Centre in Barnetts Demesne. The centre, which was established in 1988, with funding raised by the Earl of Wessex, is one of a number of special Duke of Edinburgh projects throughout the United Kingdom.
The aim of the BAC is to engage young epople aged 14-25 years from all backgrounds in a range of adventure learning and outdoor programmes and activities, aimed ta developing their personal and social activities.
There was a strong Shankill presence on the day, with young people from Edenbrooke Primary Schools and various representatives from the Grater Shankill Partnership Board.