The Prince of Wales paid a flying visit to Airbus to mark the Broughton plant’s 75th anniversary.
Prince Charles joined current and former employees at the site, where the aerospace factory opened in 1939.
He was shown around the North Factory where the A350’s wings are built before presenting Airbus’s Executive Vice President of Programmes Tom Williams with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, which the company won in the International Trade category earlier this year.
From there, Prince Charles mingled with guests and employees in the new Visitor Centre which he later officially opened, after being presented with a specially designed staff made by apprentice Jack Small to mark his visit.
The Prince said: “Can I just say I am enormously grateful for such a marvellous gift with a rather large knob.
“Coming here today makes me feel rather old because I remember coming here years and years ago when there were much smaller facilities, and since then of course things have expanded and grown and Airbus has become ever bigger and evermore successful, so today more than anything else gives an opportunity to celebrate the enormous impact and success that Airbus has and is having, particularly on the local community but particularly in national terms.
“What you are doing here which is of enormous importance in terms of contributing to Airbus’s sales around the world and in developing evermore efficient, quieter, more environmentally effective aircraft.
“All that of course requires enormous amounts of teamwork and expertise, determination, application and so on so I just wanted to use this occasion to congratulate you and say I admire the extraordinary way in which you ensure that all these parts and aircraft wings are produced as I do have some vague idea of what goes into it.
“I want to say how encouraging it is that you concentrate so much on the apprenticeships side of the equation because most of the engineering firms that I speak to tell me that there’s a large black hole appearing because so much of the older generation are disappearing and the problem is to make sure we can actually encourage enough young people to learn the skills to revitalise our manufacturing sector because this country’s aways been so famous for that.
“Thank you Airbus for taking such a lead and adopting the industrial cadets programme and I hope that will lead to more young people seeing they may have a possible career in this sort of industry.”
Jack Small, 21, was part of the team that designed and created the staff made of aluminium, carbon fibre and 3d printed titanium for the Prince.
The third year engineering undergraduate said it was a ‘great privilege’ to meet HRH.
He said: “I was a bit nervous in front of the cameras at first but it was a great opportunity and great privilege to present the Prince with the staff."
During his tour, The Prince of Wales also spoke to Airbus UK Broughton FC ’s youth academy players.
Taylor Kendrick, eight, is from Leeswood. He said the Prince asked him about the academy and what he did and that it was really exciting to meet him.
“He was a bit older that I thought and he didn’t have a crown”, he said.
Finley Savage, 10, and Josh Maldon, 17, also spoke with him.
They said they were asked how long they had been with the academy and wished them luck for their games at the weekend.
Iwan Edwards, who works for the North Wales Wildlife Trust, described the Prince as ‘very charming’ and told him that he was trying to encourage more schools to keep chickens and pigs.
Head of the Broughton Plant, Paul McKinlay spoke after on the visit.
He said: “We were honoured to welcome the Prince of Wales to Broughton for this significant milestone in the history of our plant.
"The site has changed considerably in the three quarters of a century since the first factory opened, and we have benefitted from around £1.9billion of investment in new facilities and equipment since we became part of the Airbus company in 2001.
“Mosquitoes, Doves, Wellingtons and Comets have emerged from this factory over the years, and today we play a part in developing the most technologically advanced civil airliners in the world. Airbus is vital to the continued success of the aerospace industry and this in turn benefits the region and the whole country.”
Other guests at the visit included Lord Barry Jones and Lady Janet Jones, Flintshire County Council chief executive Colin Everett and chairwoman Glenys Diskin with her husband Cllr Alan Diskin, MP Mark Tami, the Lord Lieutenant of Clwyd Henry George Fetherstonhaugh and the High Sheriff of Clwyd David Meredith-Jones.