Doncaster’s engineering future has a royal seal of approval – thanks to Princess Anne.
The Queen’s daughter toured both the National College for High Speed Rail, which is training the next generation of railway engineers at Lakeside, and Polypipe, which is one of the borough’s largest manufacturers, at its site in Wheatley, during a whistlestop tour of the borough.
The Princess Royal’s visit to the rail college on Friday was described as showing support for the college’s drive to boost skills and improve diversity, equality and inclusivity across Britain’s rail and engineering sectors.
She met with a group of students and apprentices who are currently training at the college in preparation for getting jobs on major national transport infrastructure projects including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
She was told about the college’s efforts to encourage more women into the sector, and met with several female apprentices who are currently undertaking roles across disciplines including civil engineering, track design and fleet management.
Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the college, said: “It was a pleasure to introduce Princess Anne to some of our talented learners today. In order to encourage more women into the industry and improve the diversity balance, it’s essential that we have high profile female ambassadors like the Princess on board.”
The princess also visited Polypipe, one of Doncaster’s biggest employers, where she was given a tour by chief executive Martin Payne, chief operating officer Glen Sabin and Polypipe Building Products managing director Cameron McLellan.
The 85-minute visit included seeing Polypipe’s moulding facilities in action, and a talk on the history of the business and its sustainability objectives.
The princess also unveiled a plaque to commemorate her attendance before she was handed a bouquet of flowers by Mr McLellan’s daughters, Charlotte, aged twelve, and eight-year-old Isabelle.
Mr Payne said: “We are naturally delighted to have welcomed the Princess Royal to our site. She spent time chatting with our staff, learning about our training facilities and our use of cutting-edge technology.”
Mr Payne added that that the visit further strengthens Doncaster’s reputation as a blossoming hub of enterprise.
“Doncaster has developed a thriving business community and we are incredibly proud to be a part of the town’s progress,” he said.
“The princess’s visit is testament to hard work and success of the many flourishing companies we have here.”
It was the 31st time a royal has visited Doncaster since the turn of the century, including in 2007 when the Prince of Wales met victims and emergency services staff affected by the devastating flooding across South Yorkshire.
The Princess Royal is a regular visitor to Doncaster, having made an annual trip over the last four years.