PUPILS from two Woking schools met the Earl of Wessex during his visit to a Surrey education charity and showed him the engineering skills they have learned.
On his tour of the GASP Motor Project Workshop in Albury, near Guildford, Prince Edward asked Tegen Brown, Allanah Collins and Lucy Francis, from Woking High School, about their task in taking apart an engine.
“It’s opened my eyes,” said Millie, while Lucy added: “I’d never done anything like this before but now I think of engineering as a possible career option.”
Tegan said: “Now I know how to help my dad. I know more than my brother about engines!”
The earl also met pupils from Bishop David Brown School in Sheerwater, who demonstrated the engineering techniques they learned on a 12-week programme delivered by GASP in partnership with the Chertsey-based engineering company, Stanhope-Seta at Chertsey.
Julie Siwak said: “Now I want to do work experience with Stanhope-Seta.” Before the Royal Visit was over, the company had offered her that opportunity.
Fellow Bishop David Brown pupils Bilal Iqbal and Ben Hancock said they enjoyed the practical experience, which had given them increased confidence and opened up new possibilities.
The earl was shown the different accredited programmes providing basic motor engineering skills delivered by GASP . He also saw the charity’s mobile vehicle that takes sessions out to young people throughout Surrey. Before leaving, Prince Edward unveiled a plaque to mark his visit.
GASP works with young people who respond well to vocational learning outside the classroom; with some of the hardest to reach young people in society; and with those who have special educational needs, usually aged between 14 and 19.
Using motor mechanics as a key motivator, the charity provides customised programmes of activity, which give youngsters opportunities to re-engage with education and learning and to move on into training and employment.
Henry Curwen, chief of GASP, which began in 2005 as evening classes for pupils in the immediate area, said that in 2011-12 it ran around 70 sessions in the day and evenings for 40 young people and this had grown to 450 workshops for 210 youngsters in 2015-16.
Many of those taking part were at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment of Training). Of those, 170 gained AQA Unit Award accreditation and for some, it was the first recognition they had ever achieved.
Prince Edward was greeted at the start of his visit by the Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey Michael More-Molyneux. Other dignitaries included the Mayor of Guildford Gordon Jackson, the Chair of Surrey County Council Sally Marks, and the County Council’s CEO David McNulty.
Mr McNulty said: “GASP stands out because of the impact it has on individual young people’s lives. You can almost touch the change in them.
“Every time I come into contact with GASP there is another, tweak, another improvement in their programmes as they listen to feedback from the students.”