Soft Touch Official Opening – His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

On Monday 22 June 2015 we officially opened our new youth arts and heritage centre to the public.

Not only was opening the building a huge milestone for Soft Touch Arts, but our very special guest, His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex made it a very memorable day for all involved.


His Royal Highness and Lady Gretton, The Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire arrived at 11.40am and were greeted by our Chair Gill Brigden. Soft Touch Director, Chris Wigmore then escorted His Royal Highnessthrough the different creative spaces so that he could experience our work in action and interact with the young people. He took a deep interest in the different creative activitiesand spoke to the young people to learn more about the work they were doing and what coming to Soft Touch means to them.

Invited guests were served a buffet lunch by our young cooking volunteers, Erica, Leona, and Tiyhana who were helping Chef Patron Phillip Sharpe from The White Peacock restaurant. The food was prepared and served in our new sMASHing project kitchen downstairs and it was a great opportunity to showcase how the kitchen will be used for future events such as pop-up dining events.

Before the Royal party retired for lunch, His Royal Highness stopped to speak to Business Development Executive Ruth Northey, who planned the detailed step-by-step schedule for the visit. He chatted to the young interns and apprentices who work for Soft Touch: Caylee Gutsell – Events Co-ordinator on placement from De Montfort University Arts Management Course, Lauren Park – Arts Project Worker Intern and Emily Johnston – Social Media Apprentice. His Royal Highness was very interested in the roles young people played within the organisation.

After lunch, the Royal party and guests gathered in the main exhibition and event space to watch two performances – a taster of the ‘Healthy Relationships’ drama project performed by young people from Welland Park Community College followed by a wonderful poem created and performed specially for the day by Vern Noble; a former Soft Touch participant.

With the event drawing to a close, His Royal Highness gave a short speech about his visit to Soft Touch and what he thought of the new facilities and the work we do and spoke of Soft Touch in a very positive light.

It was then time for His Royal Highness to unveil the commemorative plaque but before doing so, he warned visitors that he couldn’t promise it would go to plan causing everyone to laugh and creating a fun atmosphere. We are pleased to report that the unveiling of the plaque did go to plan! Before leaving he thanked the Soft Touch staff for his invitation and signed the visitors book.

After the royal party left, visitors were able to wander around the building and chat to staff and young people.