Prince William and Kate Middleton visit Lancashire

PUBLISHED: 17:47 26 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:16 20 February 2013

The Royal couple arrive in Darwen

The Royal couple arrive in Darwen

Prince William and Kate Middleton stole the hearts of Lancastrians on their last engagement before the wedding Photography by Rex Features

It was a traditional Lancashire welcome - very warm and extremely wet. But the torrential rain didnt stop thousands turning out to see Prince William and Kate Middleton make their last public appearance before the wedding.

By the end of the day, the sun was shining and the couple went away with cheers ringing in their ears and a small but very appropriate gift - a Lancashire courting cake.

Its a tradition in some parts for a fiance to make this shortbread and jam confection for her betrothed as a token of love, care and friendship. This one was topped with their names in icing. It might not have been as fancy as the cake they cut on their wedding day but it was made with just as much feeling.

It had been created by staff at Self Unlimited, which helps people with learning disabilities. They run the caf at the pavilion at Witton Park in Darwen - one of the Royal couples stopping off points.

Their day-long visit to Lancashire started at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy and hundreds of well-wishers ignored the rain to give them a rousing welcome as they arrived in east Lancashire.

The prince officially opened the academy before touring the facility, chatting to staff and students. He then launched the SkillForce Princes Award and gave a short address on the scheme to pupils, parents, governors and teachers.

SkillForce is an education charity which has William as its patron and the awards will honour young people who make a major contribution to their communities.

Many more well-wishers were at their second and final engagement at the nearby Witton Country Park which the prince was visiting role as patron of the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge.

This initiative aims to permanently protect 2,012 outdoor recreational grounds across the UK and to demonstrate the importance of green spaces for sport.

Miss Middleton, wearing a navy blue tailored jacket, started a 100 metre race at the parks sporting facilities and she met a group of athletes and coaches, joking that she hadnt dressed for the weather.

During the day, the prince thanked his hosts for a warm Lancastrians welcomeif a little damp. As a future Duke of Lancaster, hell just have to get used to it.

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