PRINCE Andrew officially opened a £30m academy school during his visit to the North-East today. (Friday, March 7)

The Duke of York unveiled a plaque after a tour of North Durham Academy, in Stanley, and spoke to students before lunchtime.

The academy was formed two years ago following the merger of Stanley School of Technology and Greencroft Business and Enterprise Community School and opened its doors to pupils in September.

Students welcomed the royal visitor by waving Union Flags and cheering as he entered.

Prince Andrew said: “I am really rather proud that it has been me who has been the first member of my family to come here.

“A few things have struck me today. There has been a huge amount of commitment by a lot of people to deliver an absolutely outstanding educational establishment here to enable young people to make the most of the opportunities.

“I would like to encourage all of the young people to take up the challenges and opportunities that are on offer, because if you do, that is what is going to stand you in the greatest stead as you go on after school in the workplace.

“There are a lot of inspirational people who work here on your behalf.”

Civic dignitaries including Kevan Jones MP, Stanley Town Council chairman Councillor Alec Clegg and Durham County Councillors attending the opening.

The duke’s tour of the new campus included hair and beauty demonstrations, a visit to the motor vehicle workshop, a chance to talk to students about charity work and extra curricular activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

Headteacher David Thornton said “It was an honor and a privilege to welcome His Royal Highness to the academy and to Stanley.

“We want the very best for all our students and for our local community and we are delighted that he has been able to get us off to a flying start.”