Prince Harry applauds staff at Veterans UK on his visit to the Fylde

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Prince Harry charmed staff at Veterans UK and thanked them for their ‘amazing work’ on a visit to the Fylde coast.

AS IT HAPPENED: When Prince Harry came to Lancashire

His visit to the Veterans UK base in Norcross marked the 25th anniversary of its 24-hour helpline service, which provides support for ex-servicemen and women and their families, receiving hundreds of calls every day.

During his visit, he met management and staff, including listening into a live pensions query call alongside helpline adviser Lyndsay Ethell from Fleetwood.

She said: “It was a great honour meeting Prince Harry, a once in a lifetime opportunity that I feel extremely privileged to be part of.

“The whole helpline deserve this recognition for all the hard work we do.”

Prince Harry visits Veterans UK at Norcross

Prince Harry visits Veterans UK at Norcross

On arrival, the Prince was introduced to Wyre mayor Coun Alice Collinson and chief executive Gary Payne.

He also met Dawn Webster, who has worked at the site for the full 25 years since the inception of Veterans UK.

Harry was accompanied on his tour of the Norcross building by Jon Parkin, head of Veterans UK, who said: “I was delighted to welcome Prince Harry. I am hugely inspired by his work with veterans, so I was very proud to be able to demonstrate the breadth of services we provide here.”

Retired RAF squadron leader Stephen Flaherty, 66, who receives a war disablement pension, said the Prince was “a delight”.

He said: “He has a very detailed knowledge of an awful lot, without a shadow of a doubt. He is a very caring person.”

Mr Flaherty, from Lytham, stepped down from flying in 1986 because of medical issues and was eventually put in touch with Veterans UK.

He said: “They tell you about allowances that I had never heard of. They are always there.

“I am very privileged to be able to call on them.”

Phoebe Taylor, a pupil at Shakespeare Primary School in Fleetwood, whose mum Hailley works at the Norcross site, presented the Prince with a brass Passchendaele commemorative poppy made from shell fuses found on First World War battlefields.

The 11-year-old was joined at the presentation by three other youngsters whose family work for Veterans UK – Connor Simeon, nine, a pupil at Sacred Heart RC Primary, Thornton; Cormack Bell, 13, of Baines High School, Poulton and Aiofe Gilligan, 14, from Cardinal Allen High in Fleetwood.

Harry then unveiled a plaque to mark the 25th anniversary and told onlookers, all staff at the site: “Happy anniversary everyone. Thank you for all the amazing work that you have been doing and see you in another 25 years.”

The visit to Norcross was the first of four Lancashire ports of call for the Prince in yesterday’s busy schedule.

He went from there to St Michaels on Wyre, which was devastated by flooding at the end of 2015, learned about the My Place project at Brockholes Nature Reserve, Samlesbury, which aims to empower young people by encouraging environmental activity and rounded off the day at the Sir Tom Finney Soccer Development Centre and the Lancashire Bombers Wheelchair Basketball Club at the University of Central Lancashire sports arena.