Thomas ‘privileged’ to meet Prince Harry at Hillsborough

Prince Harry.
Prince Harry.

Carrick care worker Thomas Haighton had the honour of meeting His Royal Highness Prince Harry at Hillsborough Castle yesterday.

Thomas, senior day care worker, at Hawthorns Adult Centre, in Carrickfergus, spoke of the “privilege” of meeting the Prince at the Secretary of State’s annual garden party which was attended by 2,000 guests.

Thomas Haighton and wife Lyndsey met DUP leader Arlene Foster.

Thomas Haighton and wife Lyndsey met DUP leader Arlene Foster.

Thomas, who was accompanied by his wife Lyndsey, was nominated to attend.

“I got an invitation in the post. Somebody had nominated me. I received the invitation about a month ago.”

He said he believes that he may have been nominated for his role in organising a “Disability Pride” parade and fun day in Carrickfergus in May.

However, he said the invitation had not revealed which member of the Royal Family would be in attendance.

Thomas Haighton met Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

Thomas Haighton met Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

Guests were delighted to meet the Prince on his first visit to Northern Ireland.

His first engagement was in Ballymena where he opened a new £5.6 million ambulance station and North Division headquarters before proceeding to the Mac theatre in Belfast to meet young people promoting cross-community links in an event organised by Co-operation Ireland.

Afterwards, it was onwards to Hillsborough Castle outside the city for his final engagement of the day where he was welcomed by Secretary of State James Brokenshire and a party of schoolchildren.

Thomas said: “Although we did not get talking to him, we got really close. He seems really genuine and down to earth, definitely a people person.”

“It was a fantastic experience, a real privilege.”

Thomas also had the opportunity to meet other dignitaries including the Secretary of State and DUP leader Arlene Foster.

Thomas is also club leader at Carrickfergus and District Senior Gateway Club.

Commenting on the Disability Pride event, he said: “There are 33,000 people with a learning disability in Northern Ireland and we decided to organise an event to show pride in who they are and what they do.”