THE Princess Royal helped to celebrate the achievements of a work scheme, an engineering company and a charity during a visit to the district yesterday.

She was given a warm welcome by more than 150 guests at Bradford Royal Infirmary, where she spoke to graduates of an employment scheme designed to support young people with learning disabilities into the world of work.

Then, during a visit to Shipley, she presented an industry award to an engineering firm, and spoke of the importance of work being carried out at the Carers Resource charity, also based in the town.

BRI was named as the business partner in Project SEARCH when the first cohort of interns, all pupils at Southfield School in Bradford, joined the scheme in September 2013.

The programme, delivered by the charity Hft, combines education with practical work experience in the hospital for young people with learning disabilities aged 18 and 26, giving them a platform to learn the skills needed to secure employment.

In the first year of the scheme, each of the 11 interns gained more than 900 hours of work experience, and six of the group have since secured jobs, either at the hospital itself or with outside employers.

During her visit, the Princess Royal spoke to the interns, seeing them at work in their current roles.

She also met people who had graduated from the scheme, including 21 year-old Donata Andrasz, who talked about how working in hospitality at BRI had led to her getting a job at the Bradford-based firm Tiffin Sandwiches.

“I really enjoy my job, but I wouldn’t have got it without Project SEARCH,” she said.

“I was a bit nervous about talking to the Princess, but I’m much more confident about talking to people now and wanted to tell her how the project helped me get my job.”

Andrew Horner, Hft’s regional manager, said the royal reception was the perfect opportunity to reflect on the success of the initiative and look to the future.

“We are delighted that the princess, who is a dedicated Hft patron with a longstanding interest in improving the lives of people with learning disabilities, was able to join our celebrations.

“This scheme is a real stepping stone for these young people to get out into the employment market and transfer the skills they have learnt.”

Professor Lord Kamlesh Patel, chairman of Bradford Teaching Hospitals, said he was “very proud” to show the Princess Royal the “wonderful” work of Project SEARCH, and Dominic Wall, head teacher at Southfield School, praised the scheme for creating “incredibly positive” opportunities for the students involved.

A number of staff could be seen crowded around upstairs windows to catch a glimpse of the royal party as they arrived at CarnaudMetalbox Engineering Ltd (CMB) in Dockfield Road, Shipley.

The Princess Royal was visiting the firm, which manufactures can-making equipment, to present the 2014 Queen’s Award for International Trade, and visit its recently-opened academy of can-making and seaming.

Andrew Truelove, CMB general manager, who greeted the royal party alongside the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford, Councillor Mike Gibbons and Elizabeth Sharp, said everyone at the company was “thrilled” by the visit.

“It truly is a proud day in our history, and for all of us at CMB,” Mr Truelove said.

“It’s a privilege to celebrate our international accomplishments while, at the same time, showcase our UK manufacturing heritage here in Shipley.

“We have been operating from the Dockfield Road site for more than 50 years, and we look forward to exciting years ahead as the company continues to expand.”

Geoff Gargon, plant manager, who joined CMB in 1971, added: “Today has been one of the most special days in my 43 years at the company.

“It has been an honour for the whole staff, and meeting Princess Anne will live long in our memories.”

The Princess Royal then visited The Carers’ Resource, also based in Shipley, to hear about the wide range of services on offer to the estimated 60,000 carers across the Bradford district, including training and employment support and direct care provision.

Accompanied by David Harbourne, the charity’s chairman, and its director, Anne Smyth, she met carers, volunteers, staff, trustees, and others who support the work of the charity.

“I was able to present many staff, carers and volunteers to the Princess Royal, and they all enjoyed talking and sharing their experiences with her,” said Mrs Smyth.

“Caring can be an isolating and all-consuming experience, and is usually an unplanned role.

“The importance the presence of the Princess Royal gives to our work is wonderful, and being able to share the best practice of Carers’ Resource in Bradford is vital.”

In her role as president of the Carers Trust, the Princess Royal spoke about the need to work in partnership to support carers with their needs.

“The evolving issues of carers in the community and how you reach out to them is difficult, and there isn’t one organisation with all the answers,” she said.

“If we don’t work in partnership, we miss the point as far as carers are concerned.

“All the people here today have an impact, and your support is very important.

“Sometimes becoming a carer happens very abruptly, and people aren’t prepared for it.

“There is a danger they can become isolated from friends and family, so having a network of support to help pick up the pieces is important.

“By working together, we stand a much better chance of finding the right solutions in the long run.”

Before leaving the charity’s base at Park View Court, the Princess Royal unveiled a plaque.