The Duke of Cambridge on Thursday fondly recalled his first visits to a homeless charity with his late mother as he hailed the warmth and respect shown to all who walk through its doors.
Prince William attended an awards ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Passage, where he was reunited with former rough sleepers who have turned their lives around.
In a speech at the event, at the charity’s headquarters in central London, the Duke said: "Over the many years that I have visited The Passage, first with my mother when I was just a small boy, I have developed a great affection for everyone who is here.
"Every time I come here, I am touched by your warmth and friendliness, and the dignity and respect you show to every single person who comes through your door.”
The Duke, who became patron of The Passage in 2019, said he found it “particularly inspiring” to meet former clients who were helped by the charity in their time of need and later returned to help others.
Over the many years that I have visited The Passage, first with my mother when I was just a small boy, I have developed a great affection for you all. pic.twitter.com/gvIT9qPEb9
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) September 30, 2021
The Duke recognised Nomonde Mkhwanazi, 49, whom he met before she transformed her life and is now training to be an NHS nurse.
"Really nice to see you and look at you now,” he said.
"You are smiling more than you were last time you had your cap down and now you are smiling. I’m so pleased that things are getting better for you.”
He also spotted Colin Chilman, 56, from a previous visit, who is now working in a central London restaurant.
Mr Chilman recalled the Duke visiting The Passage with his mother and Prince Harry when they were boys.
The Duke of Cambridge, royal patron of The Passage, speaks to trustee Antonio Orlando
Credit: Julian Simmonds
He said it was “extra special” to be presented with his award by the Duke, describing how The Passage had changed his life.
The Passage opened in 1980 but its 40th birthday party was postponed 12 months due to Covid.
The Duke first visited The Passage at the age of 11 and has said it taught him the values of respect, dignity and kindness to the vulnerable that he had carried with him ever since.
Last year, he volunteered during the second lockdown on three occasions, preparing hot meals and speaking to residents.
Mick Clarke, chief executive of The Passage, said to the Duke: "Thanks for the support you give and the time, often without the cameras. Thank you for the care and compassion."