Tameside receives special royal visitor
Monday 4th September 2017 @ 14:02 by Adam Higgins
Ashton News

There was a special royal guest in Tameside on Monday afternoon as Prince Harry paid a visit to the new-look Ashton Old Baths. 

His Royal Highness had a look around the iconic landmark on Stamford Street West during a trip to Manchester to see the work of a number of projects and organisations.

He arrived just before 1:30pm and was greeted with warm cheers from an excited crowd and spent a few moments to speak to Deputy Mayor of Tameside, Cllr Andy Kinsey, and Steve Pleasant MBE, chief executive of Tameside Council, before having photographs taken with people gathered.

All smiles: Prince Harry arriving at Ashton Old Baths to the sight of a healthy crowd (Picture by Mike Gurney) 

Mr Kinsey, Hyde Werneth councillor, said: “He was very pleased to see so many people turn up to see him at Ashton Old Baths and he was very happy to see we’ve transformed such an iconic Tameside building into a magnificent working space for so many people.”

Mr Pleasant added: “It was great to see so many people out to welcome him, first and foremost. It’s great to see him visit Tameside and see the converted Ashton Old Baths in all its glory. We’re pleased he is supporting the work of the Resilient Hub, which is about supporting people after the Arena tragedy.

“We’re proud to host the hub. The building is almost full since its conversion but we had enough room to host the hub. It’s great that we have got a person of Prince Harry’s calibre coming to visit and endorsing the work of the hub, which is so important in moving Greater Manchester forward.”

Part of his visit to Ashton was to have a look around the Greater Manchester Resilient Hub, which was set up in response to the Manchester terror attack in May and co-ordinates care and support for children, young people and adults whose mental health and/or emotional wellbeing has been affected.

Inside the building, Prince Harry spoke to call handlers about the importance of looking after your mental health and praised the proactive mental health service provided in Ashton.

As part of the visit, His Royal Highness received a detailed briefing from the Hub’s adult and children’s clinical psychologists, Dr Alan Barrett and Clare Jones.

Learning more: Prince Harry spoke to staff during his visit to the Greater Manchester Resilience Hub

He then met with clinical staff and support workers, learning more about the sorts of problems people are experiencing and how the service is helping them.  The visit concluded with Prince Harry meeting a wider group of people who have been involved in mobilising the service from when the attack happened.

Commenting on the visit, Dr Alan Barrett, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and adult clinical lead for the Hub, said: “Since the attack happened, there has been a great deal of teamwork and collaboration between NHS organisations and partner agencies to mobilise the Hub.  Practically all of our staff have been released from their permanent roles to work in the Hub, so many people have been taking on additional work on top of their day jobs.

“Whilst our staff are trained in dealing with trauma, it can still be difficult to process the gravity of the Manchester attack, so having Prince Harry come to visit the team has been a tremendous boost for everyone involved.  He is a real champion for mental health and it was fantastic to be able to tell him about the work we do here and how we are helping people.”

Ashton Old Baths had stood empty for over 40 years before re-opening last year having underwent a £4m refurbishment to convert it into a new digital, creative and media hub – funded with the support of grants from European Regional Development Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

He stayed for around 45 minutes before moving on to his next engagement at the Etihad Campus.

Prince Harry became the first member of the Royal Family to visit the borough since the Duke of Gloucester had a look around Willow Wood Hospice in Ashton in September 2015.

On Monday morning, His Royal Highness visited ex-servicemen and women living in Canada Street – a cause supported by Ashton-based Armoury Trust, who gave around 100 cans of different coloured paint last year to help transform derelict flats and houses for the former homeless soldiers to live in.

READ MORE: Ashton charity’s paint donation helps former homeless soldiers

After his stay in Ashton, he pitched up at Manchester City’s City Football Academy training ground and dropped in on a training session being run by Coach Core, a scheme his charity the Royal Foundation set up in 2012, before attending a briefing with the scheme’s Manchester partners – including Greater Manchester Mayor’s Andy Burnham.
He then watched some local school children take part in drills in football and rugby on the club’s indoor pitches before concluding his stay by having a look around the £200m Etihad complex.

Main picture:

Say cheese: Sisters Faye and Evie Gurney, who are 14 and 11 years old respectively, grabbed a quick snap with the prince as he arrived at Ashton Old Baths (Picture by Mike Gurney)