Duke of York visits Letchworth

THE Duke of York paid a visit to a specialist company in Letchworth to officially open new state-of-the-art facilities. In his capacity as the UK s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, Prince Andrew arrived at interior surfaces s

THE Duke of York paid a visit to a specialist company in Letchworth to officially open new state-of-the-art facilities.

In his capacity as the UK's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, Prince Andrew arrived at interior surfaces specialists Altro Ltd, of Works Road in Letchworth.

He was greeted by MP for North East Hertfordshire, Oliver Heald, chairman of North Hertfordshire District Council, Claire Strong, and a crowd of excited staff.

He spoke to company employees before taking a tour of the building and unveiling a plaque to commemorate his visit.


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Irene Coldrey, team leader receptionist, said: "He spoke to all of us who were sat at the front of reception.

"We were shocked, he came over and spoke to us and asked us a lot of questions.

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"We were not expecting to be able to speak to him but he even jokingly asked me for a cup of tea.

"He was seriously interested in talking to everyone and finding out everyone's job roles."

Jean Murray, senior receptionist, said: "He was playful and humorous. He responded to us really well and we felt very comfortable. It's an exciting day for us all."

She added: "I actually watched him come back from the Falklands so it was great to see him for a second time."

Mr Heald said: "He was very amusing and he put people at their ease.

"I said hello but he was really more interested in speaking to the people who work there.

"He seems like a really nice guy, very pleasant and really good with people."

Richard Kahn, chief executive of Altro, said: "We are delighted that His Royal Highness has recognised our success at home and abroad by visiting and officially opening our new facilities."

During his visit, the Duke also popped next door to Altro's sister company - Autoglym - an automotive care product manufacturer.

Paul Caller, chief executive of Autoglym, said: "Our team were thrilled to meet the Duke of York and show him some of our latest developments and new products.

- DURING a visit to Comet country, the Duke of York spoke of his personal experiences in the Falklands war, as well as Prince Harry’s imminent stint in Iraq.

Prince Andrew popped into Stevenage-based EADS Astrium - a space industry leader responsible for building global communications systems.

During a tour of the premises on Gunnels Wood Road, the Duke spoke to various employees about satellites and his experience of telecommunications during the Falklands war.

Dr Mike Healy, director of earth observation, navigation and science, said:

“His time in the forces means he has a view on how useful satellites were at the time.

“He asked a lot of questions which were relevant to his own experience.

“Prince Andrew asked if Harry is going to phone back home when he’s in Iraq. He said that wasn’t an option when he was in the Falklands.

“I reassured him Harry would be able to call home if he wanted to. Now they are given phones and credit.

“It was something that was of interest to him. He was saying how poor the telecommuncations were in the Falklands because it was on the edge of the satellite range.”

Dr Healy added: “The Duke is quite opinionated and his opinions are not necessarily aligned with ours.

“His view on Galileo - a new a global satellite-based navigation system for precise positioning and timing information - was not the most positive.

“He needs a bit of convincing on certain projects and their value for money.”

Paul Vanston, head of the mechanical platform team, said: “The Duke was quite interested to see what the components of a satellite are.

“He was interested in talking about the propulsion system and he seemed to know quite a lot about it.

“He asked detailed questions from the start.

“He was very normal, very approachable and very happy to discuss things.”

Liz Seward, senior mission systems engineer, said: “We were talking about military systems and the fact that in the Falklands there was not a very good satellite range.

“He asked quite a lot of questions and was very knowledgeable.

“He’s also got quite a good sense of humour and there was some banter.”

Dr Healy concluded: “The Duke was a normal sort of person and he didn’t come over as being particularly royal.”

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