Grand Old School

The pupils and staff of Bellshill Academy had a hard act to follow when HRH the Duke of York dropped in to open a multimedia centre and celebrate five years of North Lanarkshire's partnership with the Outward Bound Trust.

In the 36 hours prior to arriving in downtown Bellshill, the royal personage had attended one of the most star-studded pop concerts ever seen in Britain and witnessed a colourful caravanserai of cornucopic quality in the Mall (steady, this ain't The Good Old Days - Ed).

A small but perfectly formed patriotic crowd outside the school, which celebrates its 104th birthday this year, did its best to add a little colour to Main Street by waving a couple of large Union Jacks. It was a nice touch to see residents of the flats above Burns' Bar across the street similarly equipped.

Staff and pupils carried out their appointed tasks with aplomb and no one seemed intimidated by the fact that so many of the royal minders looked like the Mitchell brothers from EastEnders.

The strain normally associated with royal occasions seemed to have bypassed heidie John Cunningham and when he told HRH how much he had enjoyed the visit, he looked as if he actually meant it. We await publication of the next honours list with interest.

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