HRH Prince Edward visited the Broomlee Outdoor Education Centre near West Linton on Tuesday, one of three operated by the charity, Scottish Environmental & Outdoor Education Centres.

And he spent time engaging with staff and youngsters taking part in a range of outdoor activities.

During the visit he also planted a tree at part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative created to mark Her Majesty the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

The heavy rain delayed the arrival of his helicopter, but the prince stayed just over an hour learning about the benefits to be gained from the broad range of programmes and activities available at the centre.

He particularly enjoyed watching a group of youngsters building a large tower from crates and safely climbing to the top.

Dave Spence, the chief executive officer at Broomlee Outdoor Education Centre, told the Peeblesshire News: “It was pretty damp, but everyone was in good humour. Prince Edward was delayed due to the weather so we had to cut the programme short but he was keen to get outside and see the youngsters in action and genuinely seemed to take an interest in what they were doing.

“I’ve not met any of the royal family before but I was impressed. I think he gets it. He saw the climbing and the canoeing and other activities and could see the children developing confidence, resilience, teamwork, problem solving and communication skills. All of these positive outcomes come from these experiences and it’s really about creating a pathway for them.

"He then really put his back into planting the tree as part of the Green Canopy initiative.

“Many of the children we get here are from towns and cities and we are introducing them to the outdoors. I believe that young people need to be meaningfully connected to the outdoors otherwise they may not be minded of the need to save the planet.

“But if they take part in 20 activities during their week’s stay, it changes their self-perception and improves their belief in themselves and being away from home amplifies these outcomes.”

Every year the centre welcomes thousands of visitors including primary and secondary schools, youth groups, music groups, groups with specific needs and individuals.

But like many other businesses, it was forced to close its doors last year due to the coronavirus and currently many councils are not sending anyone to the facilities.

Mr Spence added: “For the past 18 months we have been unable to trade because of the pandemic and that has resulted in a loss of income. We still have the overheads and it costs round £1.5 million [a year] to operate [across our three sites in Scotland]. We are people heavy with a member of staff to 12 young people or sometimes one to eight depending on the activity to ensure safety.

"Many people assume that because we are an education centre then we are funded by the government but that is not the case. We are a charity and social enterprise so the loss of income is concerning. Anyone wishing to donate can get in touch with us via the website.

“We have been in existence for 80 years and over one million youngsters will have accessed our facilities over the years and benefitted from that experience and we want that to continue.”