A Hebburn army cadet who was invited to Buckingham Palace said it was an honour to meet the Princess Royal.
Cadet Corporal Paige Cowton, of the Hebburn detachment of the Durham Army Cadet Force (ACF), travelled to London to attend the Princess Royal’s Reception for Young Achievers.
The 17-year-old was chosen to represent her peers at the prestigious event after she helped lead her team to victory in the cadets’ national first aid competition.
The St Joseph’s Sixth Form pupil said: “It was a great honour to go to Buckingham Palace and meet the Princess Royal HRH Princess Anne.
“We had to curtsy when we met her. I am glad I had the chance to practice the move earlier that morning. Princess Anne was very nice to us and asked our names, where we were from and lots of questions about what we have been doing.
“She asked each of us why we had been invited by St John’s Ambulance Brigade to the event.
Buckingham Palace is a fantastic place to visit. It is beautiful inside with all the red carpets and gold wall decorations.Paige Cowton
“She talked to me about times when her first aid skills had come useful.”
The annual event was primarily for St John Ambulance cadets until last year, when it was opened up to other uniformed cadets who share similar first aid training and experiences.
Paige made the journey to Buckingham Palace alongside fellow cadets and Lieut Tracy Collier, Durham ACF’s county first aid officer.
She added: “It was a very early start. We went to the St John Museum to be briefed on the day. I met lots of interesting people who had some great stories and achievements but first aid was always at the core of their stories.
“It has been a long journey to Buckingham Palace. I joined the Army Cadets four years ago. We all do first aid training which is very useful skill to have.
“I liked first aid and got involved in the local ACF first aid team, our South Tyneside based A Company team. We train hard with experienced and skilled instructors and we have done well at county, brigade and national Competitions.
“I have been involved in national and inter service competitions twice. In the 2015 competition I got 40 out of 40 marks. It was the first time this has ever happened. I was delighted that all the training had paid off.”
Paige says visiting Buckingham Palace was an exciting experience.
She said: “Buckingham Palace is a fantastic place to visit. It is beautiful inside with all the red carpets and gold wall decorations.
“There are some fantastic paintings and bits of sculpture. I loved the fish cakes they gave us to eat.
“It was a long day. It did not get back until after midnight. I am still trying to catch up with the work I missed at school but it was a once in a lifetime experience which I would not have missed for the world.
“I have had great fun in the Army Cadets as well as making lots of friends and gaining new skills. Joining the Cadets was a good move. Little did I know that four years after joining I would end up meeting a member of the Royal Family.”