Royal visitor received at Soughton Hall

A DofE licence was presented by HRH The Earl of Wessex to Rachel Clacher, the Co Founder and Director of Wrexham based business success story Moneypenny.

STAFF at Soughton Hall Hotel welcomed a Royal visitor to an event which highlighted the employability benefits of gaining a Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE).

His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex was Guest of Honour at Soughton Hall Hotel near Northop, Flintshire, on Wednesday where he met business leaders and DofE supporters from across North Wales.

A DofE licence was presented by HRH The Earl of Wessex to Rachel Clacher, the Co Founder and Director of Wrexham based business success story Moneypenny.

The team at Soughton Hall, led by owner James Ramsbottom, were there to receive HRH The Earl of Wessex at the former Bishop’s Palace which was built in 1714.

James said: “It has been an honour to welcome His Royal Highness to Soughton Hall and for the hall to be the focal point of this event which brings together North Wales business leaders, headteachers and this extremely well-respected, successful and high profile charity.

“We are delighted to be a part of it and it has been special for the whole team working here because it is not every day that you welcome a Royal visitor.

“Soughton Hall has had its fair share of important guests in its time, including Luciano Pavarotti and Richard Burton, and the last Royal visitor was King Juan Carlos I of Spain. It is a pleasure to welcome a member of the British monarchy this time round.”

 The DofE is the world’s leading youth achievement award which offers a vast range of opportunities and adventures to young people aged between 14 and 24.

Participants strive to achieve three levels of award – bronze, silver and gold – and there are five main sections; volunteering, physical, skills, expedition and  with residential at Gold level.

More than 1,800 organisations across the UK, including schools, colleges, universities, youth clubs, the Scouts and Guides, young offender institutions and businesses, help to run more than 13,200 DofE centres. The programmes are delivered under special licence to ensure they meet specific standards.

The Soughton Hall event was supported by the Confederation of british Industry (CBI), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Insitute of Directors (IoD) members.

DofE Business Ambassadors, Wales Young Ambassadors and Partnership Managers came together with HRH The Earl of Wessex to gain the commitment of more North Wales businesses to recognise DofE as an indicator of young people’s wider achievements and evidence of essential skills.

DofE licences were presented by The Earl to headteachers and pupils from schools in Denbighshire who will now be officially involved in helping young people to achieve their DofE awards.

A licence was also presented to Rachel Clacher, the Co Founder and Director of Wrexham based business success story Moneypenny. The firm runs its own Foundation Project which has created traineeships designed to give unemployed, under-served young women in the local community new opportunities in life and work. Known as ‘We Mind the Gap’, The DofE Young Leaders programme will now form part of the overall experience for the young women taking part.

Stephanie Price, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Wales Director said: “We are delighted that HRH The Earl of Wessex joined business leaders and DofE supporters from across North Wales at Soughton Hall to help the DofE Charity highlight the employability benefits of achieving a DofE Award.  It is important that as a charity we continue to gain commitment from supporters to allow the life-changing benefits of the DofE to reach even more young people across Wales.

“We also took the opportunity to celebrate with head teachers, DofE Leaders and participants from Denbighshire who have recently become Directly Licensed Centres (DLC) and are developing the DofE offer for young people though this new way of working.

“It was especially pleasing that HRH The Earl of Wessex was there to help us launch a new and unique partnership between DofE Wales and the We Mind the Gap charity, established by Wrexham based employer Moneypenny.”

Soughton Hall was built by Edward Conway and sold to Bishop John Wynne in 1732.

It later became a much-loved home for the Bankes family and in the early 1800s was remodelled, at the request of William John Bankes, by the famous Sir Charles Barry whose iconic work includes the Houses of Parliament and Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey fame which was home to the Crawley family in the hit ITV period drama. It became a hotel in the 1980s and was bought in February last year by Elle R Leisure.

For more information about Soughton Hall Hotel call 01352 840811 or go to Facebook page is @soughtonhall and Twitter @SoughtonHall

For more information about the DofE go to