Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal celebrates outdoor learning with UK Youth

12 October 2023

  • Blog

On Monday (9th October) UK Youth welcomed Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, the charity’s Patron, to Avon Tyrrell, the outdoor centre it runs in the New Forest, as the charity launched its new capital appeal to restore and expand the site.

HRH The Princess Royal joined UK Youth’s President, Nigel Mansell CBE, Chair of Trustees, David Thomlinson, and the charity’s CEO, Ndidi Okezie OBE, on a tour of the site, meeting participating schools* and UK Youth’s Outdoor Learning Team based at Avon Tyrrell. 

As part of the visit, they watched young people take part in a number of activities including the Tree Top Trail, Climbing Wall and various problem-solving tasks.

The visit comes after last Friday’s (6th October) installation of a one-of-a-kind sculpture of HRH The Princess Royal by British sculptor Frances Segelman (Lady Petchey), who is known for her sculptures of the Royal Family. Commissioned in celebration of the Princess Royal’s 70th birthday in 2020, the sculpture also appeared in an ITV documentary ‘Anne: The Princess Royal at 70’.

During the visit, HRH The Princess Royal planted a tree in honour of the late Queen Elizabeth II. When the then-Princess Elizabeth opened Manor House in 1949, she similarly planted a tree to mark the occasion.

The planting of the new tree signifies a new era at Avon Tyrrell, as UK Youth begins its Avon Tyrrell Capital Appeal to modernise the space and create more opportunities disadvantaged young people to enjoy outdoor learning experiences.  

UK Youth are seeking £6.4 million to invest in an Experiential Learning & Sports Centre at Avon Tyrrell, and deliver a significant restoration of the original manor house built in 1891, which was put into put into a Trust by the Manners family in 1946 for use by the ‘Youth of the Nation’, as UK Youth became the custodians of the site. 

Since then, UK Youth have never stopped providing outdoor learning opportunities for young people – giving them somewhere to stay, to explore, to roam and feel free. However, after decades of hundreds of thousands of enriching experiences, the manor house needs significant repair. 

With the Avon Tyrrell Capital Appeal funds, UK Youth will restore the manor house and build indoor badminton and football courts, a new climbing wall, an indoor archery range, a new café and kitchen, as well as an events space and conference centre.

The funds will ensure that the activity centre is more inclusive than ever before and allow more young people can experience the life-changing value of outdoor learning. As a national leader in youth work, UK Youth’s distinctive ‘experience, learn and develop’ model runs through everything it does and the charity hopes to expand this opportunity to as many young people as possible.

Ndidi Okezie OBE, CEO of UK Youth, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have welcomed our Patron Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, to Avon Tyrrell today – her continued support for our work in delivering life-changing experiences for young people across the United Kingdom is unwavering and vital to us.

“Opportunities for young people to have access to nature and experience outdoor learning are absolutely vital for their personal, social and educational development. Outdoor learning helps young people build confidence, get out of their comfort zone and develop key leadership and life skills – as well as improving their mental health and reducing behavioural issues.

“We hope our Avon Tyrrell Capital Appeal, together with HRH The Princess Royal’s continued support for our work, will ensure thousands more young people are able to benefit from fantastic outdoor learning experiences.”

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