HUNDREDS of students gathered alongside a string of local dignitaries to see Princess Anne declare Sussex Coast College Hastings officially open.
The royal visited the town centre campus - which opened last year after a £100million plus building project - on Tuesday, escorted by the Lord Lieutenant of Sussex.
She was given a tour of the college’s facilities by head teacher Janak Patel and took time to speak to many of the students, keen to hear more about their studies and the difference the new college had made to their education.
One of those who got to meet the princess was Matthew Sully. The 17-year-old, currently studying health and social care, was over the moon. He said: “She seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing and asked me questions about my course.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking beforehand but it was brilliant to get to meet her and something I won’t forget.”
And, according to Mr Patel, it was a sentiment echoed across the college. “Our students have been getting excited about this for weeks,” he told the Observer. “It has been a lovely occasion – not just for the students, but also for the members of staff and all the people who have worked so hard to make this college happen.”
The princess was treated to performances in the college’s atrium, with students showcasing Zimbabwean dance (Samantha Nyovanie, Thandeka Ncube and Shorai Jaffet), Punjabi dance (Jaspreet Kaur) and Bollywood-style dance (performed by Pravin Kamble, Komal Priya, Kiran Rana Magar and Bimala Rawal).
There were also demonstrations from teenagers working on a car as part of their mechanics course and a trippy display from performing arts students preparing for their forthcoming production of the 1960s-themed musical Hair.
Before unveiling a plaque, Princess Anne paid tribute to the hard work of everyone who had made the college possible and urged pupils to make the most of the opportunities in front of them.
She said: “The relationship between pupils and their teachers is key, but nobody would deny that having a building as good as this is a good place to start.
“I would encourage students to make the best possible use of it (the college) to help fulfil the ambitions they have.”