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'It's history': Crowd gathers to see Prince Harry during Dagenham visit

PUBLISHED: 18:45 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:53 11 April 2019

The Duke of Sussex greets the crowd outside the Future Youth Zone in Dagenham. Picture: Ken Mears

The Duke of Sussex greets the crowd outside the Future Youth Zone in Dagenham. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

The crowd broke into joyful cheers as Prince Harry arrived to open the brand new Future Youth Zone in Parsloes Park.

Amiral Lawal, Eva Nwosa, Jonmark Nwosa and Toyin Lawal. Picture: Catherine LoughAmiral Lawal, Eva Nwosa, Jonmark Nwosa and Toyin Lawal. Picture: Catherine Lough

Clutching flags decorated with the Royal crest, as well as Union Jacks, families were thrilled to catch a glimpse of the Duke of Sussex, with some arriving hours beforehand to see him.

Waiting for him to arrive with daughter Amirah, 12, Toyin Lawal said: “The children are so excited to see him – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Normally you only see him on TV so this is really different. And he’s a good bloke!”

Sisters Beigh and Suzie Anum. Picture: Catherine LoughSisters Beigh and Suzie Anum. Picture: Catherine Lough

His friend Eva Nwosa was there with son Jonmark, 12, who said: “Seeing Prince Harry is an experience that we don’t really get here in Dagenham, so it’s quite special.”

“It’s history,” says Kelly Brosnan, who was waiting with sons Kian and Aaron.

“And I love what he does for kids and for communities. We’ve never really had anything like this in Dagenham before so it’s really exciting.”

Elizabeth Pate and daughter Olivia. Picture: Catherine LoughElizabeth Pate and daughter Olivia. Picture: Catherine Lough

She praised the centre for providing facilities for lower-income families – it will include an indoor climbing wall, dance and drama studio, music room and recording studio.

“The kids can gain new skills there and find out what they’re good at,” she said.

Professor Chris Imafidon, who works with young people through the Excellence in Education programme, said: “Prince Harry showed he has a heart for children and youth.

Professor Chris Imafidon. Picture: Catherine LoughProfessor Chris Imafidon. Picture: Catherine Lough

“He genuinely connects with people and is interested in what they have to say – for him to come to Dagenham is a testimony to his commitment to the less privileged.”

Sisters Beigh and Suzie Anum were waiting outside as their sister, who is 14, had the opportunity to meet Prince Harry in person.

“We’re here to get into the community spirit,” Suzie said. “Our sister was over the moon.”

Caleb Lopez-Wells, Lisa Wells, Donna Staples, Sophie Staples, Hallie Lopez-Wells and front, Lewis Say and Tommy Lopez-Wells. Picture: Catherine LoughCaleb Lopez-Wells, Lisa Wells, Donna Staples, Sophie Staples, Hallie Lopez-Wells and front, Lewis Say and Tommy Lopez-Wells. Picture: Catherine Lough

Lisa Wells, who was there with sons Caleb and Tommy and daughter Hallie, said: “He’s such a down-to-earth person. He does a lot for mental health and ordinary people – I think he’s a really lovely bloke.”

Hallie, 16, was so overcome with emotion that she cried.

The family, whose son, Tommy, has Down’s syndrome, are all involved with charity Young Carers, supported by the Queen’s Trust.

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