William and Kate visit childcare centre on final leg of Northern Ireland trip

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met young children, parents and staff at a childcare centre which supports parents from disadvantaged areas on the final stop of their two-day visit to Northern Ireland.

William and Kate waved to cheering onlookers who had gathered at St Joseph’s SureStart facility in the Dunclug area of Ballymena as they arrived on Thursday afternoon.

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

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and health visitor Amanda Pollock, left, speak with parents at the SureStart centre
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and health visitor Amanda Pollock, left, speak with parents at the SureStart centre (Liam McBurney/PA)

William and Kate were accompanied inside the building by centre manager Jennifer Campbell and Lauren McDermott, SureStart family support services coordinator.

The SureStart centre, funded by the Department for Education in Northern Ireland, is run by the leading children’s charity Action for Children.

The crowd outside the centre as Kate and William arrived
The crowd outside the centre as Kate and William arrived (Niall Carson/PA)

The parenting programme focuses on supporting families facing challenges like parental isolation or mental health issues or who may have limited support networks.

The duke was joining the group for Fathers Reading Every Day, which is designed to encourage fathers to engage in reading opportunities with their children.

The duchess, who is Action for Children patron, was joining a Stay and Play session, meeting some of the two and three-year-old youngsters who attend the centre every week.

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