IT was a right royal rally when Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex visited Holyport Real Tennis Club followed by lunch at The Royal Oak in Paley Street as part of a campaign to generate support for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) charity.

Through a combination of DofE engagements, real tennis events and fundraising activities throughout this year, the Prince is looking to enable a new generation of young people to start their DofE journey in the UK and abroad.

At Holyport Real Tennis Club he played real tennis with youngsters from Holyport College, later dining with DofE supporters at The Royal Oak owned by chat show legend Michael Parkinson and his son, former Windsor Boys' School pupil, Nick.

He said: “It was an honour to host The Earl and DofE supporters. I’m a member of Holyport Real Tennis Club and thoroughly enjoy the sport. I applaud the work His Royal Highness is doing to raise funds for DofE and encourage and support young people through the programme.

"I’m also delighted to see his efforts raise the profile of real tennis. Everyone knows lawn tennis, but it’s incredible how many haven’t even heard of real tennis.”

During his visit the Earl also met Craig Johnston, from Furze Platt, sous chef at the Michelin-starred gastro pub, who won this year's BBC's Masterchef: The Professionals.

The party enjoyed confit of salmon starter, followed by roast rump of lamb, polished off with poached Yorkshire rhubarb, whipped cream and orange cake.

For young people aged 14-24, doing a DofE programme offers a unique opportunity to grow as young adults and gain valuable life experience while developing essential employability skills such as confidence, resilience and drive.

After achieving an Award the journey doesn’t end and many Award holders go on to continue volunteering, honing skills or improving their fitness.

Peter Singleton, DofE Regional Director in the South East said: “As a DofE charity trustee and Gold Award holder, the Earl of Wessex is passionate about supporting young people to reach their potential, whatever their background or circumstance. We are grateful for his dedication to the charity and taking on this fundraising challenge. His support, and the generosity of so many local partners, will help us extend our reach in the South East and work towards our ambition of all young people having the opportunity to do their DofE. The Earl’s enthusiasm for real tennis shows that the impact of a DofE Award really does last a lifetime.”