Minus her husband, Duchess of Cambridge gets a hug from a young North-East admirer (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Minus her husband, Duchess of Cambridge gets a hug from a young North-East admirer
2:55pm Wednesday 10th October 2012 in News
THE Duchess of Cambridge was warmly welcomed by the people of the North-East - and even received a hug from one young admirer.
Hundreds of well-wishers lined the grounds of the Newcastles civic centre to greet Kate, who was carrying out a string of solo engagements in the North-East.
But ten-year-old Terry Campbell, from Blyth, Northumberland, was determined to meet her and joined his teacher, Kim Ramsey, and classmates on a trip to see her.
The Duchess, dressed in a burgundy coat by an unnamed designer which she last wore on Christmas Day, did not need to be asked twice and hugged the schoolboy during a walkabout, leaving him beaming but tongue-tied.
Ms Ramsey, from Morpeth Road Primary School in Blyth, joked afterwards: "This will go down as a cultural and historic event, that's what were putting it down as.
"We heard on the radio she was coming so I organised a school trip. Terry's full of life and he said 'I'm going to ask her for a hug' and he did."
The youngster was so overawed by the experience he could only answer 'yes' when asked if he enjoyed it.
Today's visit is Kate's first official trip to the North-East and turned into a solo event when the Duke of Cambridge was forced to cancel his appearance to attend the funeral of his former nanny.
Olga Powell, who died last month, cared for William and Prince Harry when they were young boys, including during the difficult period when their parents marriage was breaking up in the early 1990s.
Kate told one well-wisher that she wished her husband could have been with her today.
Margaret Southam, in her 60s, from Gosforth, Newcastle, said after chatting to the Duchess: "I told her we wanted to see William and were sad he could not be here, and she said 'I'm missing him too'."
Inside Newcastle Civic Centre, Kate met representatives from a number of community organisations which have been helping residents and businesses and working to improve life generally in the city.
She even tried her hand at the Paralympic sport of boccia, a form of bowls, when she joined two disabled players in motorised wheelchairs from the local Percy Hedley School, which teaches children with cerebral palsy and motor disorders.
The Duchess sat between Michael Bell, 17, from Durham, and Richard Armstrong, 16, from Birmingham. As she was handed a red bowl, she said: The pressures on and predicted it would go rolling off the carpet.
Her first effort hit the white jack ball and stopped six inches away but Richard proved to be the master of the game, making a succession of throws which hit or came close to the target.
Kate's second effort sailed past the jack but her third and final throw made her gasp as it came within a whisker of hitting the target before rolling two feet away.
Michael, who performed a little worse than the Duchess with his bowls, conceded: "She was doing better than what I was doing, but she should come down and see some of our other sports like wheelchair basketball."
Kate later revealed, like thousands of keen gardeners around the country, she grows her own veg.
The admission came when the royal visited a community project in Elswick Park, close to Newcastle city centre, where she chatted to community gardener Emma Hughes.
The Duchess' arrival was similar to her first appearance in the North-East, with hundreds of children and members of the public welcoming her with union flags and cheering.
Ms Hughes said after the visit: "She grows her own potatoes in sacks. We were digging the potatoes and she was asking about it. She said ours were bigger. She said she only got small ones this year."
The park is protected under the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge which seeks to safeguard and create hundreds of playing fields across the country and has William as its patron.
The community garden was set up in 2009 to give girls and young women the chance to learn how to grow vegetables and plants.
Kate is now in Stockton on the final leg of her visit.