The Prince of Wales told parents, teachers and dignitaries yesterday that an Ebbw Vale charity “warmed the cockles of his heart”. Education reporter EMMA MACKINTOSH was there.

CROWDS of flag-waving children cheered yesterday afternoon as The Prince of Wales visited Ebbw Vale.

Prince Charles paid a visit to the Ebbw Fawr Learning Community, the first 3-16 maintained school in Wales, and spoke to children from the school and nearby Pen y Cwm special school, in his first visit to the multi-million pound site.

His visit to Wales also launched Teach First Cymru, a branch of the education charity in England which recruits and trains teachers before sending them to band 4 and 5 schools in disadvantaged communities.

Kathy Lorentz, a nurse at Pen y Cwm said pupils had had photographs of Prince Charles up on the whiteboards in their classrooms all week and the older children were particularly excited to meet the Prince.

Ebbw Fawr pupil Teagan Humphreys, nine, said she didn’t know what to expect from the Prince’s visit.

“We saw the Queen last year and we were outside for three hours in the rain,” she said. “I’ve been learning facts about the Prince, like he has two sons and was born in 1948. We haven’t done much work today.”

Evan Prosser, eight, and Katie Kelly, nine, both said they were excited to see the Prince, while eight-yearold Caitlin Evans said: “We’ve been doing some work about Prince Charles on the iPad. I have learned that he is the Prince of Wales. I thought he might be Prince Harry to begin with. We saw the Queen last year and that was good.”

The Prince met dignitaries including mayor of Blaenau Gwent, Mostyn Lewis; chief executive of Blaenau Gwent council David Waggett and leader Hedley McCarthy; Nick Smith MP; and founding director of Ebbw Fawr Learning Community, Graeme Harkness, before meeting 32 Teach First participants.

He then met a group of Ebbw Fawr students, aged three to 16.

Jodie Beynon, 15, spoke to Prince Charles about her interest in athletics.

“He asked me when my trials are and what I’m doing in athletics,” said Jodie, who is from Ebbw Vale. “I was so nervous, it was really good though and I’m privileged.”

Pen y Cwm pupil Tristan Richards showed the prince his artwork before the prince went into a private meeting with business leaders, followed by speeches in the hall by Daria Brill-Williams, head teacher of Pen y Cwm school, and Mr Harkness.

In a surprise move Prince Charles chose to speak to the assembled parents, teachers and dignitaries, and said Teach First “warmed the cockles of his heart” and their teachers raised his spirits, before unveiling a plaque to commemorate his visit.

Outside, when a member of the public asked Prince Charles how he felt now he was about to become a grandfather.

He said: “It makes me feel old.

“I’m not a grandfather yet but I will be soon.”