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The Duchess of Cambridge visits charities in Newcastle

10th October 2012

The Duchess of Cambridge became the "Talk of the Toon" when she was warmly welcomed by the people of Newcastle - and hugged by one young admirer.

Hundreds of well-wishers lined the grounds of the city's civic centre to greet The Duchess, who was carrying out a string of solo engagements in the North East.

But 10-year-old Terry Campbell, from Blyth, Northumberland, was determined to meet her and joined his teacher, Kim Ramsey, and classmates on a trip to see her.

The Duchess, dressed in a burgundy coat, did not need to be asked twice and hugged the schoolboy during a walkabout, leaving him beaming but tongue-tied.

Ms Ramsey, from Morpeth Road Primary School in Blyth, joked afterwards: "This will go down as a cultural and historic event, that's what we're putting it down as. We heard on the radio she was coming so I organised a school trip. Terry's full of life and he said 'I'm going to ask her for a hug' and he did."

The youngster was so overawed by the experience he could only answer "yes" when asked if he enjoyed it.

The visit is The Duchess's first official trip to the North East and turned into a solo event when The Duke of Cambridge was forced to cancel his appearance to attend the funeral of his former nanny.

Olga Powell, who died last month, cared for The Duke and Prince Harry when they were young boys.

Inside Newcastle Civic Centre, The Duchess met representatives from a number of community organisations which have been helping residents and businesses and working to improve life generally in the city.

She even tried her hand at the Paralympic sport of boccia, a form of bowls, when she joined two disabled players in motorised wheelchairs from the local Percy Hedley School, which teaches children with cerebral palsy and motor disorders.

The Duchess sat between Michael Bell, 17, from Durham, and Richard Armstrong, 16, from Birmingham. As she was handed a red bowl, she said: "The pressure's on" and predicted it would "go rolling off the carpet".

Her first effort hit the white jack ball and stopped six inches away but Richard proved to be the master of the game, making a succession of throws which hit or came close to the target.

The Duchess's second effort sailed past the jack but her third and final throw made her gasp as it came within a whisker of hitting the target before rolling two feet away.

Michael, who performed a little worse than The Duchess with his bowls, conceded: "She was doing better than what I was doing, but she should come down and see some of our other sports like wheelchair basketball."

Her Royal Highness later revealed, like thousands of keen gardeners around the country, she grows her own veg. The admission came when she visited a community project in Elswick Park, close to Newcastle city centre, where she chatted to community gardener Emma Hughes.

The Duchess' arrival was similar to her first appearance in the North East, with hundreds of children and members of the public welcoming her with union flags and cheering.

Ms Hughes said after the visit: "She grows her own potatoes in sacks. We were digging the potatoes and she was asking about it. She said ours were bigger. She said she only got small ones this year."

The park is protected under the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge which seeks to safeguard and create hundreds of playing fields across the country and has The Duke as its patron. The community garden was set up in 2009 to give girls and young women the chance to learn how to grow vegetables and plants.