Royal praise for courage of Luton girls

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have praised the courage of girls who have recovered from mental health difficulties and self-harming.

William and Kate were continuing their drive to raise awareness about mental health with a visit to a newly revamped centre for young people.

The Youthscape building at Bute Mills in Luton, Bedfordshire, reopened in April after a GBP3.2 million revamp.

It was designed for the organisation as a national hub for its work.

Founded in 1993, the charity specialises in young people’s social, emotional and spiritual development. It has pioneered projects such as SelfharmUK, which is the only dedicated imitative aimed at helping youngsters understand and recover from self-harm.

The royal visitors met Holly Keany, 18, and Ellis Jones, listening intently to their stories as they described everything they have been through during their lives.

Miss Jones, also 18, emotionally revealed that she began self-harming after her mother was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

She told the couple that Youthscape helped her cope, especially when her mother died when she was just 14.

William told her: “What happened should never have happened to you and you should never have g one through it.

“The fact you have gone through it and got where you are now, you should be really, really proud.”

Kate, who was wearing a blue and white LK Bennett dress, told both girls they were “so courageous” and “strong”.

Speaking after the meeting, Miss Jones said: “I feel so thankful for what he said, especially because he lost his mum at a similar age.

“It meant a lot to me. He said I was really brave and strong and that I should be proud of myself. He was really nice and so was Kate.”

Over the past year, the Duke and Duchess have focused much of their public work on promoting the emotional and psychological well-being of children, teenagers and adults.

Touring the building, they met some of the young people who use the facilities spread across the mill, which was built in 1911.

William, an avid Aston Villa fan and president of the Football Association, joined Jermaine Hylton, 17, and Youthscape worker Matt Allen in a game of Fifa on a computer.

Playing his favourite team against Luton Town, who recently beat Villa,William scored a goal during the match, but one of the boys told him it was offside.

William jokingly said after his celebration: “What? Are you kidding me?!”

Talking to other young people about their Youthscape experiences, Katerevealed to Charlie Loveard, 16, and Denice Matongo, 23, who were playing Uno, that she used to play it with her siblings and it is her favourite game.

After asking about the charity and whether she would recommend it to anyone, the Duchess told Laura Murphy how much she enjoyed reading the Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.

The 20-year-oldsaid: “She said it was really, really good.”

Moving on the one of the kitchen areas, where centre users are taught cooking skills as part of their development, Kate and Will happily tucked in to chocolate rice crispie cakes, made specially for their visit.