Charities buzzing with final royal visit preparations

Sail and Life Training Society, The Cridge Centre for the Family will host royal couple

Setting sail into Victoria’s Inner Harbour on a tall ship with several teenagers on board is something Loren Hagerty has done many times throughout his career.

But Saturday will be a day to remember for the executive director of the Sail and Life Training Society (SALTS) as he welcomes Prince William and his wife Kate on board for just over an hour.

Partnering with another charity called Jack.org, a total of 80 people split amongst two tall ships will take part in the  event slated for 11:45 a.m. at Ogden Point. Leading up to the big occasion, staff have been polishing and varnishing the ship’s woodwork, giving it a royal shine.

“They will have an opportunity to connect with the young people on board as well as our crew members and hear about the work that both of our charities are doing to help young people grow and develop,” said Hagerty, adding the society has been around for 42 years.

“I think raising the profile of our work with young people is what we’re most excited about. There’s a lot of people in Victoria who don’t know who we are, despite perhaps seeing our ships in the inner harbour on a regular basis.”

Every year, around 1,700 young people learn how to sail with the society. They often come on board with no sailing experience, explained Hagerty, and not only learn how to sail, but also gain life skills while growing their confidence.

The society has hosted royalty before, with the Duke of Edinburgh sailing with them in 1987 and Prince Michael of Kent, the first cousin of the queen, in 2000.

Hagerty knew a visit from Prince William and Kate wasn’t out of the question, but was still surprised when he heard the news.

“It’s been a long time since something like this has happened. We certainly weren’t expecting it,” he said. “It’s a thrill.”

The Cridge Centre for the Family has also been buzzing with excitement this week.

On Saturday morning, the royal couple are set to attend a private reception at the centre, which offers a number of services such as supportive housing for families in economic or relationship crisis, and support for women and children who’ve been impacted by relationship violence.

According to CEO Shelley Morris, the royal couple will hear some of the overcomers’ stories and the impact the Cridge Centre has had on their journey. More than 300 guests are expected to arrive, consisting of about 150 parents and 150 children. A statue dedicated to overcomers will also be unveiled.

Morris is still stunned the future king of England is coming to the centre.

“This couple travels the world. We are so honoured and blessed that they’re coming into The Cridge Centre…it’s pretty amazing,” said Morris. “What I’d like them to walk away from the Cridge with an awareness that in this corner of the world, there is a constellation of services that are really reaching out and making a difference in a community.”

The Cridge Centre will also be hosting the third annual Ride for Refuge on Saturday — a major fundraiser that involves multiple charities. Last year, cyclists and walkers raised more than $103,000 for local charities in the community.

The official departure for the royal couple is at 3:40 p.m. on Saturday from the Victoria harbour seaplane terminal. During their week-long visit to B.C., the pair also went to Vancouver, the Great Bear Rainforest, Bella Bella, Kelowna, Whitehorse, Haida Gwaii, the Yukon and Carcross.

editor@vicnews.com