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Last month, two students were selected to represent local social enterprise, Digital Buddies, at the official opening of Storyhouse, which was attended by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex.

Lucy and Jade (Digital Buddies)Lucy Murphy, a third year Economics and Geography student, was one of the representatives and has been volunteering with Digital Buddies since January. Jade Hughes, a second year Psychology with Criminology student, was also selected as a representative after completing her Work Based Learning placement with the social enterprise.

Digital Buddies is an intergenerational social enterprise that aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness among the over 50s in Chester through developing their IT skills. Digital Buddies relies on volunteers to help run the sessions every Friday in one of the community rooms at Storyhouse.

Lucy and Jade put together this report about the Royal visit…

“On June 14, Digital Buddies were invited to be present at the official opening of Storyhouse by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex. Having volunteered at Digital Buddies, we were both chosen to represent the group at the official opening. We were very excited to be asked to be included in Her Majesty and The Duchess’ visit, and we were told that they would observe our one-to-one buddy sessions with members who attend the group.

“We were assured that there would not be enough time for us to talk to Her Majesty and the Duchess, and that the Chairman of Storyhouse would explain to them what we were doing and who we were. We knew Her Majesty and The Duchess had arrived when we heard the excited screams from members of the public waiting outside to catch a glimpse of the special visitors.

“Her Majesty and The Duchess initially spoke to Frank, who is a member of the Digital Buddies group, and me (Lucy). We explained that I was teaching Frank how to use Google Earth on a desktop computer. Her Majesty then asked Frank and me why we attend and volunteer with the group. Frank explained that he felt that it was important to not be left behind as technology advances and also explained how technology is now an essential part of many daily activities, such as booking a hotel room or even booking tickets for Storyhouse. Her Majesty nodded and added: “You can’t even get across the Mersey Gateway Bridge without the use of technology.” Her Majesty had opened the Mersey Gateway Bridge earlier that morning.

“The Royal visitors also spoke to Heather, a Project Co-ordinator at Digital Buddies, Sarah, a member of the group, and me (Jade). We were looking at old photographs of Chester on an iPad and we came across a school picture of Sarah’s mum. Her Majesty stated that it was easier to scroll through pictures on an iPad compared to looking at Tweetphotographs in an album. After Her Majesty and The Duchess also briefly spoke to other members of the Digital Buddies group, Kensington Palace tweeted a picture of them meeting with Digital Buddies.

“It was an exciting and memorable day that we will never forget, and it was a great privilege to talk to Her Majesty the Queen and The Duchess of Sussex about Digital Buddies. The Royal visit was a great way to finish the academic year for both of us.”

If you are local to the Chester area and interested in attending Digital Buddies, the free IT skills workshop and drop-in for anyone over 50, you can find more information here.

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Royal visit events economics Geography criminology Psychology digital buddies