A POPULAR gallery opened its doors to a royal visitor who unveiled a plaque to mark the special occasion.

Firstsite welcomed Prince Richard, The Duke of Gloucester, who was keen to enjoy all the gallery had to offer on his visit to Colchester.

His trip to the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021-shortlisted gallery followed his visit to almshouses in the town.

The duke had a tour of the gallery which is this year celebrating its tenth anniversary and unveiled a plaque.

It was put in place to commemorate the visit and celebrate Firstsite’s first decade and the gallery’s contributions to Colchester and nearby communities.

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Joining him were the gallery’s director Sally Shaw, chief operations officer Sarah Caven-Atack, Dipak Mistry, visual arts and diversity relationship manager at Arts Council England, and Giles Coode Adams, co-founder of The Coode-Adams Firstsite Foundation.

He later met with Firstsite community partners Maria Wilby, director at Refugee Action Colchester, and Rachel Walton, co-founder of African Families in the UK.

The duke also spent time talking to exhibiting artist Background Bob - young Noah Jones who started a painting project in lockdown.

Noah, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and hydrocephalus, began an art project alongside his dad who put a call out on social media last year asking artists to complete the paintings his son had painted the background for from their Dedham home.

To date, more than 250 artists from across the globe have sent Noah their designs to go on top of his background pieces.

The duke also spoke with young artist Elsa James during his visit.

Ms Shaw said she was “proud” to introduce Prince Richard to the community.

She said: “It was wonderful to welcome the Duke of Gloucester to Firstsite and have an opportunity to show him just some of the abundance of creativity we have in our region.

“We were also proud to have the chance to introduce him to some of local groups who we have been honoured to work with to support our community, especially during the pandemic.”