Today, the Duchess of Cambridge had a very whirlwind and busy day. She was visiting the Ark Open Farm near Belfast, as part of her tour of the UK to promote her landmark survey on the early years, ‘5 Big Questions on the Under-Fives’ before heading to Aberdeen in Scotland to visit the Social Bite café. Both the engagements were embargoed due to security reasons.
The visit came after the launch of her landmark survey that is part of her life long project ‘Early Years Intervention’. She launched the survey last month in Birmingham. Then Catherine visited Cardiff and Woking to promote the survey and undertook an engagement in London too and heard from people across communities about their thoughts on how experiences in the early years can impact upon later life.
Conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of The Royal Foundation, the survey contains five short questions and aims to spark a national conversation on the early years that will ultimately help bring about positive, lasting change for generations to come. So far, 2,00,000 people have taken part in the survey.
Duchess of Cambridge, who is styled as Baroness Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, was welcomed in the Irish city Belfast by the Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster who shared her excite via Twitter, “Delighted to welcome the Duchess of Cambridge to Belfast earlier.….lots of excited children….and adults”.
About the survey Palace said,
“It follows eight years of work by the Duchess of Cambridge, during which she has explored how experiences in early childhood often lie at the root of the hardest social challenges the country faces today. Catherine has spent time meeting with families across the country and hearing about the issues they deal with day-to-day, as well as speaking to academics, experts, organisations and practitioners. In May 2018, the Duchess convened a steering group of experts to focus on how to bring about positive, lasting change in this area.
The survey is designed to bring together the thoughts of as many people as possible – recognising that everyone has a role in ensuring strong, healthy foundations for the youngest in our society that will positively affect their lifelong outcomes. The findings should provide a vital source of information for the early years sector, helping it to better understand public perceptions of the importance of the early years, and the first-hand experiences of parents, families and carers. This public feedback will also help to focus Her Royal Highness’ work through The Royal Foundation as she endeavours to provide children across the UK with the best foundations to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.”
During her visit to the Ark Open farm, the Duchess of Cambridge spoke to local parents and grandparents about the themes covered in her survey, which closes on 21st February.
The Duchess heard their thoughts on the most important factors that ensure children become happy adults and the role of parents and society in ensuring children have the best possible start in life.
As expected, the Mother of three adorable kids, Catherine was more than happy to spend the time with kids. Talking to kids she said, “Charlotte and George will be very sad not to have met you and see this really cool farm”.
The Ark Open Farm opened in 1990 as one of the first open farms in Northern Ireland. Having initially specialised in rare breeds of farm animals, the farm has now developed a number of play areas and activities for children. At present, the farm is set on 40 acres of countryside and is home to a variety of animals, including alpacas and lambs.
Getting kids outside to play and spend time had been the centre point of Catherine’s ‘Back to Nature’ Garden in 2019.
Open farms such as this are important in providing places in the community for family members of all generations to spend quality time together while allowing children to benefit from spending time outdoors. Talking to The Belfast Telegraph the Owner Stewart Donaldson said,
He was delighted to welcome the Duchess of Cambridge to Ark Open Farm in what is a very special year for the family-run farm.
“It’s our 30th anniversary. We’re all very excited. It was quite a job keeping her visit secret. We had only 10 days notice,” he explained. “We have a plaque which Kate will unveil to mark our 30th anniversary”.
At the farm, Duchess met a very special member of the farm – Sophie the corn snake. Laughing with the children Catherine said, “This is the first time I ever held a snake-like this, how cool is that?”
A lovely video of the moment.
Before leaving, Catherine thanked the local families for participating in the survey and said, “It’s really interesting to get everyone’s perspectives”.
A video of the visit.
The second stop of the day was Social Bite Café in Aberdeen, Scotland. Catherine is styled as Countess of Strathearn in Scotland. Social Bite runs social enterprise cafés throughout Scotland and uses their platform to distribute 100,000 items of food and hot drinks to homeless people each year, as well as employing staff who have experienced homelessness themselves.
At the Café, Duchess met employees, supported volunteers and customers who have experienced homelessness. She heard how experiences in the early years of life can have a significant effect on lifelong outcomes. Duchess sat down with a group of people involved with and supported by Social Bite and discussed many issues caused by family breakdowns that can impact someone from childhood through their adult life. She talked about the benefits and hard work of the organization.
As known for her culinary habit and skills, Duchess tried her hand at the Café’s kitchen making a chicken wrap. From Telegraph’s reports,
Talking to the Social Bite co-founder Alice Thompson, Catherine asked, “Have you found examples of how an individual’s childhood has affected them, leading them to where they are now? You obviously see a lot of issues close up, people who come into the cafe to perhaps reach out and you help them. It’s a really big thing to be able to do that and understand everyone’s story and the journey they are on.”
Ms Thompson said, “Oh absolutely, it’s such a massive factor in what we see in our work and we see so many of the same patterns emerging all the time.”
Before leaving, Catherine stood for a group photograph.
This video sums up the visit.
Thanking everyone who has participated in the survey, Duchess of Cambridge shared a message today,
What has struck me most is that so often the challenges people face in later life, whether mental health, homelessness or family breakdown – can so often be traced back to experiences in their earliest years. It prompted me to delve deeper into the early year’s landscape and learn more from the experts, the scientists and the amazing people providing services on the ground. But now is the time to get the views from everyone in society. I wanted to hear directly from people across the UK and it’s great to have been able to talk to people in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and across England about their experiences. I want to thank the 200,000 people who have filled it out because each and every response will help show us what society really thinks about raising the next generation. I am excited to hear from even more people before it closes on 21st February.
Now to What Duchess wore – Catherine supported two casual looks today.
For the visit to the farm, Duchess was wearing her Barbour Ladies Waxed ‘Defence’ Jacket.
For the visit to Scotland, Catherine changed into her Reiss Delaney coat.
Underneath the outerwears, Catherine wore a new Pure Collection Cashmere Roll Neck Sweater in Heather Cornflower. Thanks to Kate’s Royal Closet for the id. $175 sweater is described as, “Sumptuously soft, refined and understated. With its elegant polo neckline, this stunning cashmere sweater adds grown-up glamour to any outfit. In a choice of gorgeous shades, you’ll be needing more than one.” It is currently available in various shades on Pure Collection store.
Duchess brought back her two-decades-old Penelope Chilvers Long Tassel Boots.
Another new element in her look was Catherine Zoraida Gold Fern Hoop Earrings. Another fab id by Kate’s Royal Closet. Fern Drop Earrings. Made in 18ct gold plated silver earrings are available for £ 165.
We might hear something more about the Duke and Duchess’ reported Australia-visit this week.