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Barrage of appreciation as The Queen visits Stockton
RAFT OF DUTIES: The Queen is escorted around the barrage by Stockton Borough Council chief executive Neil Schneider
THOUSANDS of people lined the banks of the Tees Barrage International White Water Centre to watch the Queen officially open the multi-million pound facility.
The crowd cheered as they saw the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at the £4.6m pre-Olympic training centre, where they were met by children from across Stockton.
Hundreds of children were among the crowd, which had waited for the Queen and greeted the entourage with applause and cheering when they arrived in the royal Bentley.
To keep everyone entertained, The Northern Cobweb Orchestra struck up and performed as the Queen made her way around the site.
Joanna Brackstone, ten, from Oakdene School, Billingham , said: “I was so excited – I couldn’t believe that I had seen the Queen so close up.”
The Queen had toured the centre before pressing a red button to switch on the rapids and watching a demonstration by a specialist search and rescue crew from Cleveland Fire Brigade perform an exercise depicting a car trapped in a flood.
After unveiling the plaque to commemorate the official opening, the 5,000 guests watched as canoeists carrying flares made their way down the new Diamond and Jubilee courses.
The Mayor of Stockton, Lynne Apedaile, and the borough council’s chief executive, Neil Schneider, had the honour of escorting the Queen around the site.
Councillor Apedaile said: “It was a fantastic day.
Everything went smoothly and we couldn’t have asked for a better turn-out of people.
“It was really pleasing to be able to show the Queen around the new centre, which is something that everyone in the borough should be proud of.”
St John the Baptist pupil Bethany Hayes, seven, was chosen to hand the Queen a posy.
She said: “I was a little bit nervous, but it was really exciting to meet the Queen and to speak to her was fantastic.”
The Queen and Prince Philip met members of the Tees Active Academy Paddlers Group before getting back into their car and heading away from the centre.
Lucy Gardner, from the Paddlers group, was delighted to meet the Royal party.
“It was a tremendous feeling to actually get to meet the Queen,” she said.
“I was trembling with nerves when I saw her coming towards me, but she was really nice.”
As the party drove away from the centre, the Queen waved and smiled as she passed through the crowds.
Helen Baxter, from Stockton, who was with her two children, Archie and Brogan, said: “We all really enjoyed seeing the Queen and it was good that she came to Stockton.”