It couldn’t have been more of a surprise to be on a guest list to meet William and Kate. THE William and Kate. The darlings of the UK, the future king of the United Kingdom and his queen.
And they were coming to Bradford.
And why not? I’ve said it many times, Bradford is riding the crest of a wave of optimism, confidence and regeneration. We shouldn’t be surprised that we’ve caught the eye of the world’s most loved couple. And their timing was perfect,
William and Kate were everything you would expect them to be. Interested, engaged, warm, knowledgeable and above all, real.
As I gathered last week in a reception room with around 12 business people whose organisations have all made contributions to the district’s young people, the nerves were palpable. We were told the Duke and Duchess would be informal and even to call them by their first names if that’s what made us comfortable. We needn’t have worried. At all.
During a surreal 20 minutes, the Duke and Duchess took an unrushed and relaxed approach to meeting every individual in the room, listening to our stories, hearing about our professions, our roles in the community, engaging in football banter, sharing travel stories and asking important questions about life in Bradford.
For me, it was an opportunity to talk about Bradford Chamber of Commerce’s superb Bradford Manufacturing Week initiative which, in the two years since its inception, has provided almost 10,000 work experiences to our district’s school children. It’s aim is to engage with our next generation, showing them the many manufacturing career opportunities we have right here in Bradford, on their very doorsteps. It demonstrates opportunity in their neighbourhoods and an understanding of how local business contributes to the national and the international economy. It invites this next generation to be a part of that. It creates awareness of and pride in our local business community.
The royals understood. They acknowledged the important role businesses have to play in encouraging young people to understand the world of work and to support their understanding of the opportunities available. It was the most exhilarating of conversations and one I will never, ever forget.
I feel very privileged to have been involved in such an important day for our city and district. Windsor Wednesday (as we’ve taken to calling it here at Approach HQ) was about civic pride, people pride and business pride. As the sun shone on the royal couple and the children and Bradfordians waved their flags, I have never felt more admiration and respect for #TeamBradford – the people making a difference to our communities every day through creativity, determination, inspiring leadership and vision.
They were out in force on Wednesday in a fantastic collection of cultural might.
What a start to 2020. Bradford’s decade.