Picture special: Duchess of Cambridge meets children from mentoring programme

The Duchess of Cambridge meets a mentor and a child from Chance UK's early intervention mentoring pr

The Duchess of Cambridge meets a mentor and a child from Chance UK's early intervention mentoring programme - Credit: Archant

The Duchess of Cambridge visited Islington for the second time in a month on Tuesday – and revealed that her son preferred watching London pigeons to going round the Natural History museum.

She had come to Islington Town Hall, on Upper Street, to meet children and mentors from the Chance UK early intervention programme.

Wearing a grey dress by Irish designer Orla Kiely, the duchess was greeted by the Mayor of Islington Richard Greening, Islington Council leader Richard Watts as well as Chance UK’s Chief Executive Gracia McGrath and Senior Programme Manager Caroline Hopkins.

The Duchess later spoke to six children enrolled on the charity’s mentor programme, an early intervention scheme designed to help children aged 5-11 keep out of trouble in future life, about how the charity had benefited them.

Among the children present was Carl Goddard, 10, and his mentor Claire Butler, 29, both from Finsbury Park, who have met for a few hours on a weekly basis for the past five months.

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Ms Butler said: “Carl showed the Duchess a photo of a stuffed fox from our visit to the Natural History museum. She told us that she went to the museum recently with [Prince] George, but that he was more focused on the pigeons.”

Carl, who attends Montem Primary School in Holloway, said: “I felt nervous but when I got the first words out, it felt normal. I thought she would be wearing a long dress.”

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As part of the scheme, Claire and Carl meet for around 2-4 hours per week, and do a variety of activities together.

“I get to try out new stuff, like eating sushi,” Carl said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but it’s really nice.”

Other activities have included rock-climbing and going to football matches together – including a match between Leyton Orient and Barnet.

“It was my first football match,” said Carl. “I was really excited and really enjoyed it. We even got to meet the goal-keeper.”

As part of the scheme, the pair must also set each other targets which they must complete before the year is up. Carl’s include making and flying a kite, doing a performance in front of the trainee mentors and writing a book about how he has changed over the year. His mentor’s target is to dance in front of the other mentors in a deer costume.

Claire, who works for a Hackney charity that works with primary schools, says she decided to join the mentor programme to do something “more one-on-one”.

“I also wanted an excuse to do more fun things,” she said.

According to Carl, the programme, which lasts for a year, is already having a positive impact on his studies.

“I don’t get into trouble as much as I used to, and it’s helped me see school as a more fun place to be,” he said.

The Duchess also met Kessington Lapido, 22, who completed the programme in Hackney in 2005 when he was aged 11. Since then, he has gone on to work for HM Treasury and he is currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Goldsmiths University.

“The mentor programme has had a very good impact on my life,” he told the Gazette. “It was so inspiring having someone who wanted to engage with me and bring out the best in me.”

The Duchess last came to the borough earlier in October, when she visited the Anna Freud Centre in Rodney Street.

Set up by a policeman working in Islington in 1995, Chance UK now helps more than 200 children across London each year.

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