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HRH The Duchess of Cambridge Visits The Art Room at Wester Hailes Education Centre, 24 February 2016

On 24th February, The Art Room was honoured to welcome our Royal Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, also known as The Countess of Strathearn, to our studio at Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC), Edinburgh. During her visit, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge met Art Room students, Art Room practitioners, friends and supporters of The Art Room and members of the school and wider community. It was a very special day for The Art Room and our students and partners at WHEC.

During her visit, HRH joined an Art Room session where the students were working on a Frida Kahlo house, talked to the students and heard from local education and community professionals about the needs of the area and apparent impact of the charity’s presence in supporting students from WHEC and other local primary schools.

The Art Room opened its first Scottish room at WHEC in August 2014. Our three highly trained Art Room practitioners have since facilitated over 300 sessions for students from WHEC, Sighthill and Clovenstone primary schools. In 2016 The Art Room is open three days a week for nine sessions. By extending access to the therapeutic intervention of The Art Room to neighbouring schools and community groups we hope to increase our impact in the wider community. By the end of this academic year we hope to secure funding to open five days per week.

Juli Beattie OBE, Founder Director of The Art Room, said of the visit “The Art Room was delighted to be able to show HRH Royal Patron of The Art Room our very first Scottish studio and the position it holds in the Wester Hailes community. Our presence in Edinburgh represents a new phase in our growth. The needs of the local community are imperative and our work relies on our partner schools having the vision to host an Art Room studio offering early intervention to the children and young people. We are delighted to be working at WHEC and the integrated partnership is vital for the success and sense of community we have experienced."

Acting Principal of WHEC, Lewis Paterson said of this special occasion “The Wester Hailes Education Centre was extremely proud to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cambridge and mark the special partnership with The Art Room. For our students and the wider community, the visit was an important occasion to showcase the work we are engaging with to improve the lives of our young people and our endeavour to support students both of WHEC and in the wider community. Since The Art Room opened in 2014 we have seen the benefits the sessions can have on our individual pupils, and through the close working partnership with our Guidance Staff and Art Room practitioners we look forward to seeing continued change for the better.”

During the visit, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge joined a discussion asking the question: Why does the Wester Hailes Community need an Art Room and what role does early intervention have in the lives of the children and young people of the area? Chaired by Juli Beattie OBE, Founder Director of The Art Room, the participants included Tomasina Hurrell, Manager, Senior Practitioner at WHEC Art Room; Lewis Paterson, Acting Principal, WHEC; Sheila Paton, Senior Education Manager, Edinburgh Council; Sean Bell, Edinburgh Councils Children and Families; Michelle Gordon, Guidance Teacher, WHEC; Dr Eva Mahler GP, Wester Hailes Medical Practice, Living Well; Ann Gallagher, Principal, Sighthill Primary School; Sas Martinez, Community Development Worker at Clovenstone Community Centre and former student of WHEC.

Photo Credit: Lloyd Smith