Royal opening for Chesterfield autism centre

Countess of Wessex visited Chesterfield College to open autism centre
Countess of Wessex visited Chesterfield College to open autism centre
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A revamped centre which helps autistic teenagers has been officially unveiled by a royal visitor at a ‘memorable day’.

The Countess of Wessex - Sophie, wife of Prince Edward – spent time with students at the autism support centre for those aged over 16 at Chesterfield College.

It forms part of a redevelopment of the college’s Arches building, which now boasts a new cafeteria, learning centre and several large contemporary classrooms.

Youngsters presented the Countess with a bouquet of flowers before she visited several classes, which included cookery, music and rehearsals for an annual show at the Pomegranate Theatre in May.

College principal Trevor Clay said: “I’d like to thank everyone who helped to make this redevelopment possible.

“It’s a fantastic facility which offers so much to our students with autism and further improves our delivery in this area which has already been acknowledged as outstanding by Ofsted.

“We’re extremely grateful to Derbyshire County Council for their support in funding the autism support centre and the Skills Funding Agency which helped to part fund The Arches building redevelopment.

“Finally we’d like to say a massive thank you to the Countess of Wessex who spent a lot of time with our students during her visit making it a memorable experience for them.”

The Countess, who was born Sophie Rhys-Jones, is particularly involved with charities relating to children, disabilities and communication problems as part of her royal duties.

Students at the autism support centre can study subjects including maths, English, ICT, skills for life and environmental studies.

They can also work in the community and take part in work experience.

A large number of local dignitaries, which included the Mayor of Chesterfield Paul Stone and the Mayoress Barbara Wallace, were also in attendance to welcome the Countess as she toured the facility on Tuesday.