YATE welcomed Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to town on Monday with a gymnastics display and science demonstrations.

Princess Anne officially opened Yate International Academy, formerly King Edmund Community School, where a £16million rebuild project was completed last year.

In an extended one-and-a-half-hour visit to the academy, the princess toured new facilities, watched a display by King Edmund Acrogymnastics Club, chatted to pupils taking a lesson in forensic science and met local dignitaries, architects of the new building and contractors Willmott Dixon.

Before unveiling a special commemorative plaque, she told around 70 invited guests: “A lot of technology has gone into this building.

“I know it is always very exciting to have new buildings for schools and I hope everyone enjoyed it. But there is no doubt the success comes from the people who work and support it.

“You have a solid base in which to work and I wish you all the success to do so.”

She added: “And to the pupils who come here, I hope you make the best possible use of the facilities you have now have.”

Dr Rob Gibson, chief executive principal of The Ridings’ Federation of Academies which also encompasses Winterbourne International Academy and Woodlands primary phase, said it was a ‘great honour’ to have the building opened by Princess Anne.

He added: “We are here to formally open our Academy building which is designed not only to raise aspirations but through its design is in itself aspirational for our students and our community.

“Our vision for the academy is achieving success through motivation, knowledge and skills, and this building provides the right context for fulfilling our ambition.”

Cllr Ruth Davis (Lib Dem, Yate central) said she spoke with the princess about Yate.

“She asked about the town and said she could understand why people would want to live here,” she said. “It has been a great day for Yate.”

Roger Gilbert, principal of the academy, said: “It was a huge day for us and a real privileged that her Royal Highness visited us.

“What made a different to me was that she spent a great deal of time talking to the children and was very complimentary about them and how smart they all looked.