Hundreds of youngsters clutched Union Jacks and cheered as the Countess of Wessex dropped in to their village to open their kindergarten.
The Countess, the former Sophie Rees-Jones, flew into Horsmonden to open the new kindergarten building, which is opposite the village primary school.
It was the culmination of two years of fund-raising for the Locket Green group and the Frances Austen Memorial Trust, which owns and manages the site where the kindergarten has been rebuilt, at a cost of more than £300,000.
The Countess, who was accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Sir Allan Willet, and Diana Morton, from the memorial trust, spent some time greeting primary school pupils who gathered outside to welcome her, and also delayed her leaving by several minutes to meet some of them again.
She toured the new building, which was constructed by WR Brown Building Contractors of Snodland, and also met six Cub Scouts and Beavers from the 1st Goudhurst Cubs and Brenchley and Matfield Cubs and Beavers – Joseph Rigby, Dominic Rigby, Liam Sheppard, Jonathan Asplin, Charlie Howden and Ollie Bignell – who had all raised money for the project themselves, from running a tombola stall to swimming 1,000 metres and pulling a Santa’s sleigh around the village.
She also met youngsters at the kindergarten, which now has some 80 children registered and a waiting list. Unveiling a plaque to commemorate the day, she said: "I have spent a lot of growing up years here; it is very special to come back.
"I have been hearing so many stories about how you have been inventing ways to raise funds. Seeing the building today is testimony to that effort."
Her visit to Kent also included a visit to Dulwich Preparatory School in Cranbrook.
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