The Princess Royal is to visit the Skegness next month – to mark the 125th anniversary celebrations of a children’s holiday centre and to visit the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway in Ingoldmells.
Princess Anne will tour the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre (DCHC), which provides breaks for less fortunate children across Derbyshire, on Thursday, April 7.
It is the first visit to the centre by a member of the royal family since the Duchess of Gloucester GCVO visited in 1993.
She will be greeted by Sir Henry Avery Bt, the charity’s patron, and Bill Tomlinson, DCHC chairman, before being introduced to staff and shown around the residential centre, which includes a sports hall, disco lounge and games room.
A welcoming party of children will also form part of the tour.
Mr Tomlinson said: “We are extremely proud to receive a visit by the Princess Royal, which is a testament to all the amazing work done by our staff and volunteers in the development of young lives, not just this year but through the 125 years that the centre has been operating.
“It is also a fantastic way to kick off our year of celebrations, which is marked by a series of high profile events including a unique and historic steam train ride to recreate the journey made by thousands of children from Derby to Skegness when they came to visit.”
DCHC was founded in 1891 and currently offers around 450 five-day breaks every year. It is hoping, during this very special anniversary year, to raise enough to provide long-term sustainability and to increase the annual number of holidays it can offer to over 700.
l On the same day, Princess Anne will also visit the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway in Ingoldmells. She is due to open the new entrance and reception building on Skegness Water Leisure Park, where the historic railway is based, and meet the volunteers who are restoring the once-neglected locomotives.
The vehicles they will show Her Royal Highness will include a “Class D” bogie wagon built in Lincoln by Clayton and Shuttleworth, for the War Department in 1917, which has been transformed with the help of a £43,000 grant from “The People’s Millions”
National Lottery fund.
It can now carry people with disabilities and others in a manner which enables them to experience something of what it would have been like for soldiers to travel in such a vehicle to the front line.
Some of the volunteers have been associated with the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway since shortly after it was opened by pioneering enthusiasts in 1960 to link a bus terminus at Humberston, south of Cleethorpes, to the nearby beach and holiday camp.
The rails, locomotive and vehicles had previously been used to carry potatoes and sugar beet on the Nocton Estates Light Railway, near Lincoln and before that, most had been used by the War Department in France up to 1918. The line closed in 1985, when everything was placed in store.
The volunteers had formed a charity in 1981 to conserve and restore many of the more historically significant vehicles and after the line relocated to the Skegness Water Leisure
Park as it developed, they have rebuilt it, restored much of the collection and re-opened the line to the public.
The Trust’s secretary, Peter Balderston, said: “This is an extraordinary honour and we will be very pleased to show Her Royal Highness what we have achieved with just a handful of dedicated volunteers, some of whom have devoted much of their spare time for more than 50 years to the Railway. We hope it will encourage more to come and join us”.
Spokesman John Chappell said: “Few could have imagined when the Railway first relocated to the Water Leisure Park, that its historical significance would be recognised with a visit by The Princess Royal. We are all looking forward to showing Princess Anne what has been achieved.”