The Prince of Wales visits Leicester


The Prince of Wales visited the city of Leicester today, meeting members of the faith community, minority groups, and young people helped by The Prince's Trust. 

The Prince of Wales meets Baseer Omarkhil Khan from Afghanistan
The Prince of Wales meets Baseer Omarkhil Khan from Afghanistan

His Royal Highness began the day at the City of Leicester College, meeting teenagers taking part in The Prince's Trust new ACHIEVE programme. This personal development course for 13 to 19-year-olds offers a practical approach to learning to help young people to fulfil their potential.

While at the College, The Prince met Baseer Omarkhil Khan, 16, a former Afghan child refugee who hitch-hiked across Europe to Britain.

Baseer completed his schooling with the help of The Prince's Trust, after arriving in the UK aged 11 and unable to speak a word of English.

After settling with foster parents in the city, he has since completed school and has gone on to study motor mechanics at the City of Leicester College.

Baseer said: "It was good, it was really good. I might have looked quite cool but on the inside I was pretty nervous.

"We spoke about how I got here and [The Prince] told me he had been to Afghanistan as well.

"It was good to share my story with The Prince."

HRH meets shopkeepers on Narborough Street
HRH meets shopkeepers on Narborough Street

His Royal Highness then met faith and community groups who have been building closer links with the British Army for the past two years.

The Prince heard how Captain Chris Hughes, of 7 Infantry Brigade, has been attending Friday prayers at Leicester's central mosque.

Parvez Bhatty, a mosque committee member, said the informal and successful approach meant Captain Hughes is now seen as "a friend" in the community, with other mosques sending invitations for him to visit.

Mr. Bhatty said: "Hopefully others will now take the step forward that we have."

The Prince also met 14-year-old Lion Kheswa, from Peterborough, who was commended by police for talking a woman out of jumping from a multi-storey car park on Boxing Day.

The Prince of Wales was treated to a flavour of the most multicultural street in the country at his next stop in Narborough Road in Leicester.

His Royal Highness was presented with a hamper containing produce from across the globe, including Bosnian coffee, Polish pasta and dried limes from the Middle East.

During a walk down the street – which has more than 200 shops and represents at least 23 nationalities – The Prince tried a piece of baklava from the Istanbul restaurant.

The Prince also visited Westcotes Library to meet traders and faith groups.

The final stop for His Royal Highness today was Mountsorrel & Rothley Community Heritage Centre.

After visiting the city, The Prince travelled into the countryside, unveiling a plaque marking the work of volunteers who have restored more than a mile of track at the Victorian Mountsorrel Railway.

The Mountsorrel Railway was cleared and restored by 120 volunteers following a local charity appeal in 2007. Over eight years, the volunteers donated more than 100,000 hours to rebuild the track, mostly by hand, using the same tools and techniques that would have been part of the original Victorian build.

Cheered by union flag-waving school pupils, The Prince signed a visitor's book and drove a steam train along the track.

The centre provides a place where visitors of all ages can learn about the history of the local area and the ecology and geology of the Charnwood Forest, whilst at the same time being a recreational, peaceful venue where visitors can relax and spend their spare time.

His Royal Highness met volunteers including ex-British Rail driver, Kevin Williams, 58, who travels every few weeks from his home in Paris to give his time for free.

Centre Director, Steve Cramp, who showed The Prince around, said the visit was a "marvellous" advert for the volunteers' efforts.