NEWS

Duke of York in Athens promoting UK industry

Britain’s Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, yesterday took time off from a two-day visit aimed at promoting British trade and investment to meet with a group of schoolchildren and exhort them to work hard and take their achievements seriously. Prince Andrew was in Athens on Wednesday and yesterday. In his capacity as special representative for international trade and investment for British Trade International (BTI), he toured an exhibition of British security products and services competing for the 2004 Olympic Games security contract and attended a wreath-laying ceremony on Kifissias Avenue near the site where British defense attache Brig. Stephen Saunders was gunned down by members of the November 17 terrorist group in June 2000. As a patron of the arts, sports and educational bodies, Prince Andrew presented British awards to students of the St Catherine’s British Embassy School in a simple ceremony hosted by Ambassador David Madden at his residence. Awarding 16 students from years 10-12 (aged from 14 to 17), the prince put them at ease with his interest in their stories and his humorous comments, praising them for their efforts and highlighting the significance of character-building events such as those that make up the International Award. He presented each with a certificate of achievement and a badge. The International Award was initiated in Britain in 1956 as the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Today, over 4 million young people in some 100 countries take part in it. Its aim is to encourage young people, individually or in groups, worldwide, to undertake a variety of voluntary activities such as community service, expeditions in nature, exercising manual skills, building up technological and entrepreneurial expertise and taking part in a broad range of arts and sports. The award has three attainment levels – bronze, silver and gold. The St Catherine’s group has just completed the bronze level, following treks in the countryside (including expeditions on the island of Evia and on Mt Parnitha), community work with the elderly and sports events. One boy developed computer game software. «I hope using it is legal,» quipped the prince. To another boy, who undertook to help the elderly in a community service project, he said, «It must have been an interesting experience to do something for someone other than yourself.» A group of five boys related their misadventures on an expedition after forgetting to bring along their maps; being resourceful children of today, they simply used their mobile phones to find their bearings. To that, Prince Andrew added: «Do you know what the two most dangerous things in the world are? A general with a map and two drunken sailors trying to help each other.» In closing, the prince, who was decorated for his service as an officer in the Royal Navy, exhorted the students to take their achievements seriously and to keep working at them. «If you do the work now,» he said, «it makes life much easier when you go out into the real world and there is nobody there to help you. This isn’t something that should be said by your parents and teachers – because you never listen to them. It takes someone like me to tell you.»