Their Royal Highness (TRH) the Prince and Princess Edward, Earl and Countess of Wessex, visited Abaco on March 4, 2016. They were greeted at Marsh Harbour’s Forest Heights Academy Campus by educators and government officials from across Abaco. TRH came to speak to students, especially members of the Governor General’s Youth Awards Programme (GGYA) – as well as attend a youth rally at the school.
Prince Edward remarked that, to his knowledge, he is the first member of the Royal Family to visit Abaco.GGYA is under the banner of the prestigious, international Duke of Edinburgh’s Award of which Prince Edward is the international trustee and chairman. GGYA was introduced in Abaco by the late Hugh Cottis – starting at Abaco Central High School. Currently four schools on Abaco participate: Abaco Central High, St. Francis de Sales, Forest Heights Academy and S.C. Bootle High School.
Approximately 300 people have participated in the award since its introduction on Abaco.
After TRH were greeted the rally began with Master of Ceremony James Richard, Principal of Forest Heights. The invocation was brought by Chelshanno Adderley (ACH), the welcome by Yorline Auguste (S.C. Bootle) and the recognition of units by Ashanti Duncanson (St. Francis). Savion Bethell (FHA) had the honour of raising the National Anthem in front of TRH and the assembly.
ACH entertained TRH with a musical performance by their high school band. S.C. Bootle students Yorline Auguste, Linda Tilme and Kalisa Lubin performed a funny skit highlighting local culture and dialect. St. Francis students, Allaire Johnson and Ashanti Duncanson, sang a moving choral performance.
Remarks were first brought by Jack Thompson (Chairman of the GGYA Management Council) before His Royal Highness Prince Edward addressed the assembly.
The Prince joked that he was happy to “Get one up” on his family by being the first Royal on Abaco. He commended the student and volunteers’ hard work in GGYA and encouraged the students to make great successes of their life.
After the Vote of Thanks by Isabella Albury (FHA), TRH toured the campus quad where each school’s GGYA unit had presentations set up. TRH spent some time with each group – asking questions about their work and achievements, joking and learning more about Abaco.
To send the Royalty off, the FHA Falcons marched a Junkanoo Rush-Out in full costume around the school’s parking lot as TRH greeted more students before leaving. From there, TRH went to the Abaco Inn on Elbow Cay for a private luncheon.
The entire proceeding was executed flawlessly and no doubt gave TRH a good first impression of Abaco and the direction of the GGYA here. It was a special moment for all involved.