PRINCE Edward, Duke of Kent, came to Swindon yesterday to learn more about the good work being carried out by two groups in the town.

The Duke visited the non-commercial community radio station, Swindon 105.5, and Swindon Dance, to find out about the support they both provide to aspiring performers.

The station, based in The Bentley Centre, Stratton Road, broadcasts seven days a week and operates thanks to grants, donations and fundraising.

During his trip, the Duke presented station manager Shirley Ludford with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest honour available to volunteer groups.

Shirley said: “On behalf of Swindon 105.5 I would like to say that it has been an absolute honour and a wonderful privilege to welcome the Duke.”

He toured the station, being shown how to edit shows and meeting the Swindon 105.5’s volunteers, and was also treated to a performance by band Ethemia.

David Higgins, 17, a tech op at the station, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to meet the Duke.

“It was an incredible experience and I thought he was very nice.”

The Duke was also told about the support that 105.5 receives from its patrons, including Hollywood actress Whoopi Goldberg, Lord Joel Joffe and musician Simon May.

“It is very interesting to be here. I’d never seen anything like this done before,” said the Duke.

“I imagine it takes quite a lot of skill to produce radio shows.”

Before he left, the station presented the Duke with the Swindon version of the Monopoly board game to say thank you for visiting them.

The Duke then visited Swindon Dance at their Regent Circus base and found out about the support the academy provides to help nurture the town’s performers of all ages.

Marie McCluskey, the group’s artistic director, showed His Royal Highness around the former town hall building, and told him about classes the academy runs, while some of the groups also performed for him.

“The visit was a huge success,” said Marie. “It really highlighted the importance of supporting grass roots arts, and the Duke thoroughly enjoyed meeting our ex-students.

"He particularly enjoyed watching the urban class, and was very impressed with the hip hop moves. He stated that he had never seen anything like it and was so impressed with their strength and skill. He was quite taken."

Swindon Dance is a National Dance Agency, funded by the Arts Council and Swindon Council.

Before coming to Swindon, the Duke was in Marlborough to unveil a plaque in honour of those who died during the First World War.