South East Wales

Queen meets tsunami survivor at Atlantic College

The Queen and Prince Philip have ended their two-day tour of south Wales by meeting a student whose family inspired the 2012 tsunami film The Impossible.

On Wednesday the monarch began her day with a visit to International Greetings UK's base in Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly.

It finished at UWC Atlantic College, near Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan, where Spanish student Tomas Alvarez escorted them round the campus.

It had followed a trip to Pembrokeshire by the royal couple on Tuesday.

Dozens turned out to greet the royal couple on Wednesday when they were given a tour of the stationery factory at Penallta Industrial Estate.

Around 400 staff members make gift packaging, stationery and the Christmas crackers which have a royal warrant and are used by the monarch at Christmas.

During the visit, they met First Minister Carwyn Jones.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Queen and Prince Philip met First Minister Carwyn Jones during the visit to the stationery factory
Image copyright PA
Image caption Nine-year-old Jessica Barrell from Gilwern Primary School presented a posy of flowers to the Queen
Image copyright PA
Image caption The factory visit was the first of two for the final day of the Queen's Wales trip
Image copyright PA
Image caption Children from Ysgol Gymraeg Penallta greeted the Queen as she left the site

Among the crowd was schoolboy Connor James from Ysgol Gymraeg Penallta. He said he had found it hard to believe the Queen would really come until her saw her with his own eyes.

He said: "I wasn't sure about if she was actually going to come to this kind of place but then when I heard the news I was ecstatic."

Afterwards the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh moved on to the international sixth-form Atlantic College, where international baccalaureate student Mr Alvarez, 18, is training to be a lifeguard.

Mr Alvarez, from Madrid, was eight when his family were separated for two days after the 2004 tsunami hit.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Tomas Alvarez says he became a lifeguard 'to give something back' after surviving the 2004 tsunami

His mother spent more than a year being treated in hospitals in Singapore and Spain following a life-saving operation to repair injuries to her thigh and chest.

The family's story was told in the film The Impossible, starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.

Mr Alvarez said: "I became a lifeguard because of what happened to my family in the 2004 tsunami. We were incredibly lucky to survive, especially my mother who had to undergo 14 operations.

"If it wasn't for the people who helped us, I don't know if we would have survived. So I decided to become a lifeguard to give something back.

"Getting to show the Queen around the college was an incredible honour."

The royal visitors were also entertained by an a capella choir performance before meeting members of staff, students and local groups at the college, based at St Donat's Castle, which dates back to the 12th Century.

Image caption The Queen arriving at Atlantic College for the final visit of her two-day tour of south and west Wales
Image caption Local children and community groups came along for the occasion
Image caption Students from all around the world come to Atlantic College, which is part of United World Colleges

It was their second day tour of Wales. During the first day they undertook a total of five engagements, including a plaque unveiling to mark the bicentennial of Pembroke Dock.

Another highlight was a check on the progress of racehorse Tea For Three, who fell in this year's Grand National, during a visit to a specialist horse hospital in Narberth, Pembrokeshire.

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