• Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh visited Seashell today (Wed, 15th May 2024) to meet with school and college students
  • This is HRH’s second visit to the site, as she previously met with Seashell students back in 2008 when she was The Countess of Wessex
  • The Duchess visited the Bradbury Cycling Centre cycle track, broke ground for work to begin on a new Royal School College, and formerly opened The Moulding Foundation Building, Home to Royal School Manchester

CROWDS gathered to cheer and wave as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh visited Seashell today.

Seashell, which is approaching the end of its bicentenary year, runs a specialist school, college and residential accommodation for young people with the most complex disabilities in the UK.

Her Royal Highness visited Seashell at an exciting time in the organisation’s history – in 2023 it opened its brand new, state-of-the-art Moulding Foundation Building which is now home to Royal School Manchester. And Her Royal Highness was able to break ground for the work to begin on the next phase of transformation – a new building for Royal College Manchester.

Both school and college have been at the Cheadle Hulme site since after the Second World War and many of the buildings were no longer fit for purpose. The new buildings will enable students to achieve their highest potential, with accessibility the number one priority.

Seashell CEO Brandon Leigh said: “It was a delight to host The Duchess of Edinburgh and for her to see the amazing facilities we have here for our students.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve at Seashell, and where we are taking the organisation in future.

“Young people with the most complex disabilities and communication difficulties come to us from across the UK – they deserve the very best and that’s what we’re able to provide, thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

“This event has not only made their day – it’s made their year!”

The Duchess started her visit at Seashell’s state-of-the-art residential accommodation on Sir Norman Stoller Way. Sir Norman, who donated the lead gift for the houses back in 2017, was on hand to explain how important residential accommodation of this standard is for those with the most complex disabilities and their families. Her Royal Highness then enjoyed watching students having fun on the adapted accessibility bikes and cycle track at the Bradbury Cycling Centre with Hugh Inman, Bradbury’s UK Representative and Mollie Murphy, Seashell’s Fundraising and Engagement Ambassador and former student. The crowd were then overjoyed when HRH actually tried out a cycle for herself!

Next, Her Royal Highness cut the first sod for building work to commence on the new Royal College Manchester. She stood alongside Ged Mason whose family has pledged the lead gift for the building. Currently college students are using another building on site, but although this has been adapted over the years it still can’t meet the needs of all Seashell’s students.

Seashell is currently in the middle of a £10m fundraising appeal to build the College and have raised £5.7m to date. They need to raise the remainder of the funds by 2025 – so having The Duchess of Edinburgh cut the first sod will no doubt raise awareness of this much-needed project.

Last on the list for the Duchess of Edinburgh was to unveil a plaque to formerly open The Moulding Foundation Building – the new home of Royal School Manchester. The school opened to students and staff last year, but this formal opening will mean Her Royal Highness’ visit becomes part of the school’s history.

One of her many highlights of the day was seeing a music session taking place in the school hall, taking time to meet with some of the young performers afterwards. She was then presented with a few gifts from the students before she made her to the car.

Celebrations continued after the visit with a Garden Party for students, staff and visitors, making Wednesday 15th May 2024 one to remember in Seashell’s history! To find out more about Seashell and make a donation visit www.seashelltrust.org.uk