Retro: South Yorkshire visit by Duke to see his awards scheme

Duke of Edinburgh at Parkgate - May 1967

Duke of Edinburgh at Parkgate - May 1967

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On May 30, 1967 Prince Philip began a tour of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and received a rapturous welcome wherever he went.

The main purpose of his visit was to see how his Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme was benefitting young people.

Duke of Edinburgh visit to South Yorkshire - May 1967

Duke of Edinburgh visit to South Yorkshire - May 1967

Starting from Bewerley Park near Pateley Bridge at the controls of a helicopter of the Queen’s Flight, X-Ray Romeo 486, he made a perfect landing at Bretton Hall, near Barnsley.

Switching from his helicopter to an open Land Rover, he met 500 boys and girls camping in the college grounds. Then, accompanied by Ald Major J Hudson, chairman of the West Riding County Council, and other council leaders, he strolled through the central block of the college.

After a buffet lunch at the college, the Duke again boarded his helicopter and set off on the short trip to Parkgate, near Rotherham.

Hundreds of employees and their families crowded round the specially-prepared landing pad at the Parkgate Iron & Steel Company’s Aldwarke site as the Duke made a perfect landing right on schedule.

Prince Philip was greeted by Coun Charles Brett, chairman of Rawmarsh Urban Council, who was carrying out his first civic duty since becoming the steel town’s first citizen.

Against a backcloth of Union flag-waving children, the visitor met Jack Wadsworth, managing director of the Parkgate company, before setting off for a half-mile drive to the works canteen.

In the Rotherham mayoral car, the Duke, who was accompanied by his Equerry, Major A Duncan, Alfred Blake, director of the Duke of Edinburgh awards, and Mrs P Gordon-Spencer, assistant director of the Girls Awards, passed through part of the work’s multi-million-pound development.

Minutes later, the motorcade of official cars turned into slum-cleared Lloyd Street and drew up outside the works canteen to the cheers of the crowd.

Inside the flag-decked building, Prince Philip saw some of the activities which had made the Parkgate firm one of the leading supporters of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

Less than 45 minutes after arriving at Parkgate the Duke was on his way again, passing through the highly industrialised zone of the town and heading for Old Hall School.

One of the warmest receptions of the day greeted the Duke at Kimberworth as crowds, often four deep, lined the roads.

The new Mayor of Rotherham, Coun Jack Ford, gave the official welcome at Old Hall School. J Bailey, secretary of the local committee of the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, conducted the Prince round a special exhibition in the school together with Mr Bloomer, Rotherham’s director of education and chairman of the award committee.

At one point in the afternoon’s proceedings a torrential thunderstorm threatened to wash out part of the Duke’s whistle-stop visit. But he refused to be put off by the rain and he insisted on continuing under the shelter of a giant umbrella.

Later, the Duke dined at a private dinner party given by the Lord Mayor, Ald Harold Lambert, at Sheffield Town Hall.

Afterwards, he journeyed to Granville College where he was met by the chairman of Sheffield Education Committee, Coun Philip Horton, and the principal of the centre, G Croft.

He was visiting the college to see the award scheme in operation, which he had instigated for young people some 11 years earlier.

After meeting officials and organisers of many of the city’s youth organisations, he was escorted by L Morant, a leading figure in the scheme in Sheffield, around an exhibition.

The initial shyness of some of the boys and girls to whom he spoke was soon overcome. At each of the displays, representing sections of the award scheme projects, the Duke stopped for a quick talk and a joke.

After a critical look at the cookery exhibits – “That’s a meagre bit of sausage. More roll than sausage” – and a friendly inquiry to 14-year-old Wendy Warhurst about the future of a display of pasties, the Duke saw exhibitions of gymnastics and award pursuits in the college gymnasium.

Miss J Bennett, honorary secretary of the girls’ sub-committee of the award scheme in Sheffield, said: “He was very easy to talk to. The students had been a bit nervous about meeting him but he put them at ease immediately.”

Among the displays he saw was one by the police in the service section where, at the Duke’s request, policewoman Carol Morris sent a brief message to West Bar police headquarters on the modern personal radio equipment.

On hearing the reply Prince Philip joked: “It was a bit throaty.”

Most of the food in the cookery display was prepared and arranged at the home of Miss B Pearson, vice-chairp of the girls’ sub-committee, as their schools had been closed for the bank holiday.

Youth leaders and headteachers concerned with the running of the scheme watched the proceedings in the girls’ section from the stage.

In the same hall were displays organised by the boys’ sub-committee, including one by the English Steel Corporation,

His final call was on members of the Sheffield Gold Award Holders Association who were holding a meeting in the college to explain their activities to young people participating in the scheme at various stages.

His 75-minute visit ended when the Duke, looking completely recovered from his polo fall a few days earlier, inspected an open-air exhibition of camping and a cliff-side rescue display.

The Duke, who was accompanied by Lord Scarbrough, left the college soon after 10pm to rejoin the Royal train at Victoria Station, 25 minutes later than scheduled.

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