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Royal Approval to family centre

PUBLISHED: 14:40 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 24 August 2010

CHILDREN, parents and staff at a family centre enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience when a regal guest came to visit. The Duchess of Cornwell paid a visit to the Freeman Family Centre in Longstone Avenue, Harlesden, last week in her capacity as presid

CHILDREN, parents and staff at a family centre enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience when a regal guest came to visit.

The Duchess of Cornwell paid a visit to the Freeman Family Centre in Longstone Avenue, Harlesden, last week in her capacity as president of the children's charity Barnado's.

The royal toured the centre, meeting staff and speaking to families who had used its services, before unveiling a commemorative plaque marking the royal visit.

June Nyarko, centre manager, said: "It was inspiring and a real honour to have the Duchess visit.

"To have somebody who takes time out to speak to you and is really interested in the work you're doing, is quite awesome."

The duchess met with single father Celeste Masoudi and three of his four children, Benita, 18, Jonathan, 15, and Emmanuel, four, from Wembley, breaking the ice with the Congolese father by saying: "Parlez-vous Francais? Je parle un peu."

She told Mr Masuodi he had 'done a good job' in single-handedly bringing up his family, which he said was made possible with the help of the centre.

Mr Masoudi said: "The centre provided me with support to cope with my family, it was not easy for me. I have worked hard for my family to be where we are today, and I am very proud of my children."

The centre, which has been running for more than two years as a family support and contact service, is managed by Barnardo's, working in partnership with Brent Council's Children and Families Social Care Division, and The Iris and David Freeman Charitable Trust.

Its facilities include family rooms for sessional work and supervised contact, a sensory room, ball pool, large activity area and an outdoor adventure playground.

Martin Narey, Chief Executive of Barnardo's, said: "I think Brent should be really proud of this centre - along with the generosity of David Freeman, Brent Council set up the centre and paid for it to run for 20 years, and nowhere else in the UK do we have a contract like this.

"It's absolutely unique and that's why it's been so successful.

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