Hundreds of well-wishers wave goodbye to William and Kate in Ballymena


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge waved goodbye to hundreds of cheering well-wishers in Ballymena as the couple completed their two day visit to Northern Ireland.

Several hundred people lined the streets of the Co Antrim town as William and Kate went on a walkabout.

Kate during a walkabout in Ballymena
Kate during a walkabout in Ballymena

The crowds, many waving flags, braved the cold outside the Braid Centre.

The couple were there to learn more about the work of Cinemagic – a charity that uses film, TV and digital technologies to inspire and educate young people.

William meets the crowds
William meets the crowds

It was the first public engagement on the second and final day of their visit to Northern Ireland.

They started Thursday with a private meeting with officers and staff from the Police Service of Northern Ireland at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down.

As part of their visit to Ballymena, the couple also visited St Joseph’s SureStart centre in the Dunclug area of the town, which supports parents with children aged under four years.

The royal couple were officially welcomed to the facility by the Vice Lord Lieutenant for Antrim Richard Reade.

First engagement of their second day in NI, the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge met @ChiefConPSNI, police officers & staff at Hillsborough Castle where they discussed the challenging roles they undertake.

— Northern Ireland Office (@NIOgov) February 28, 2019

During the Ballymena walkabout, they spoke to members of the public who had been waiting a number of hours to catch a glimpse before heading inside the centre.

Wearing a Mulberry coat, Kate chatted to officials from Mid and East Antrim Council while William spoke to DUP MP Ian Paisley, who presented him with a wooden walking stick.

The couple then talked to Emma Noble and Jack Francis, who played them a short film they recently made.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

They also watched young budding directors and producers as they practised shooting a film.

The Duke and Duchess chatted to the Cinemagic members as they demonstrated the software used to help create programmes and films.

Kate was also given a lesson in special effects make-up.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

William also told a young boy that his five-year-old son George loves animated action film How To Train Your Dragon.

Young Regan was showing the duke how he makes dragons from pieces of coloured paper when William described how his eldest son loved the children’s film.

Laura McCurdy, who is project executive of Cinemagic, explained: “Kate spoke to Sophie Knox, who is one of the special effects makeup artists on a Sky television show.

“Will spoke to young people who take part in drama work shops and they did arts and crafts together.

“The young people here are from primary school age to third level education.”

The royal couple then watched a group of young people perform a play about divisions and riots in Northern Ireland.

The play, entitled A Stone’s Throw, shows the consequences of a young man taking part in riots and stopping emergency services and staff from doing their job.

Savanna Burney Keatings, seven, presented the couple with flowers and told Kate how she played Grace in local movie Grace And Goliath.

The film tells the story of Hollywood bigshot Josh Jenkins, who is forced to stay with a family in Belfast after finding himself penniless in the city when a movie goes wrong.

“I told her I had a great time on the film set,” Savanna said.

“Kate was very nice and William was very nice too.”

Ian Paisley, MP for North Antrim, gifted William with a Blackthorn walking stick.

He explained: “I wanted to give something to His Royal Highness to remember his trip to Northern Ireland, something which is local.

“The Blackthorn stick is harvested and made in Northern Ireland. They are very nice and unique.

“He was very pleased and said he had seen them before, of course his father has one as does his uncle.”

Both Kate and William waved to the cheering crowd as they left Braid Arts Centre.

The visit to Ballymena comes after a range of high-energy engagements on Wednesday.

William and Kate played football at Belfast’s Windsor Park and took part in a canoe race in Co Fermanagh, before rounding the day off by pulling pints at a reception for young leaders at Belfast’s famous Empire music hall.