DOZENS of young first aiders were ready to spring into action for a simulation of a cycle race gone horribly wrong.

The St John Ambulance training exercise was staged for the Princess Royal, who was greeted with the gory sight of crashed bikes and bloodied and bruised cyclists at its headquarters in Meadowfield, near Durham.

Around 60 cadets from units in Burnopfield, Chester-le-Street, Belmont, Chilton/ Willington and Darlington as well as younger members from ‘badger’ units in Belmont and Spennymoor have been preparing for the day over the last three weekends.

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Sheila Thorpe, unit manager for Consett and Burnopfield, said: “We wanted to do something that was more than one day and would give them skills to take away.

“Everyone has been so excited. It’s been phenomenal to see the how the young people have come in.”

Skye Marshall, 18, regional cadet of the year, said: “We wanted to show her what we do and what we do as cadets. It’s surreal and a bit scary but it’s an amazing opportunity. Everyone has worked really hard to make it happen.”

Earlier in the day Princess Anne visited a trailblazing technology company which invents robots for organisations around the world.

The princess visited the headquarters of Labman, in the small village of Seamer, outside Stokesley to officially open its new 20,000 sq ft extension, which has tripled the size of its base in order to meet large orders coming in from around the world.

They include an order for a cryogenic freezer from a science institute in Israel, which can deep freeze objects so they can be broken into small particles. It was demonstrated by engineer Chloe Bullock, who froze a white rose and then smashed it before the royal visitor.

The robotics and automation company already specialises in creating robotic systems that don’t already exist for companies which have problems that need solving.

Other orders include a large £2.5M formulation engine to build for Liverpool University’s Materials Innovation Factory in Liverpool and one from a company in China, for a machine that would take the contents of one million vials and transplant them into smaller vials.

Such a machine didn’t previously exist, so Labman invented a unique robot to do the job.

Company spokesman John Hesford, said: “She has been very involved in helping females in engineering so it’s really good to have her support and to prove engineering has a future here and is definitely growing.”

“This new extension has tripled the size of our facility, so we want to encourage as many people as we can and get as many people through the doors and attract apprentices with a willingness to learn and creativity.”

Princess Anne’s first visit of the day was to Hambleton Equine Clinic, near Great Ayton, where founding partner and vet Caroline Blakiston gave her a tour of the facility, one of only 19 in the country with specialist bone scanning equipment and MRI equipment for horses.

Alison Walters, another founding partner of the practice, showed the princess a demonstration of a leg scan on local stallion and a horse dental examination.

In the inpatient facility she met Cleveland Pony Club members Leah and Seth Naughton, aged 9 and 5, with their pony Dundee and Olympic eventing medallist Nicola Wilson.

The royal had been due to visit in January this year, but the visit had to be postponed due to problems with her helicopter.