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Mayos meet Meghan and Harry

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UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL Hollymount student Aoibheann Mangan explaining her project to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Westport businesswoman and Hollymount student chat with royalty

Ciara Galvin

WESTPORT woman Stephanie O’Malley was among 300 guests invited to meet royal couple the Duke and Duchess of Sussex last week. The founder of Education Desty, an online learning programme supporting children’s social and emotional wellbeing, was picked to attend a garden party at the British ambassador’s house where the Duke and Duchess were guests. Stephanie was among 50 VIPs picked who are involved in social enterprise projects that are making a difference and fit with the interests of the royal couple.
“It was a fabulous day and was much more relaxed than expected. The protocol was general, just to call them ‘Royal Highness’. Harry was meeting sports people while Meghan spoke to us,”  explained Ms O’Malley.
The CEO said Meghan was ‘fabulous’ and was ‘very relaxed and engaged’ and she even made her laugh.
“I said I really loved her in ‘Suits’ but mentioned I couldn’t get the latest season. We had a bit of a laugh and it was a lighter moment while people were talking about facts and figures.”
Among other guests at the event were former President of Ireland, and fellow Mayo woman Mary Robinson, and actress Amy Huberman.
“One of the biggest moments was meeting Mary Robinson, it was a key moment. I told her I was working in Westport and she thought it was amazing what we are achieving while working in the west. I’m still buzzing from it,” said Ms O’Malley.
During their royal visit the Duke and Duchess got to meet another Mayo lady, Cloghan’s Hill student Aoibheann Mangan.

Top secret
THE IT whizz kid met Meghan and Harry at the seventh birthday of Coder Dojo at Dogspatch Lab in Dublin. Coder Dojo is a global network of free computer programming clubs for young people, and the royal couple were given an informative presentation by Aoibheann and shown a demonstration of her project.
Speaking to The Mayo News Aoibheann said she found out a week before the visit that she would be meeting the royals.
“We had to keep it top secret and I nearly burst all week not saying a word.”
Aoibheann, who was nominated for Young People of the Year along with her friend Padraic Godwin, was worried ahead of the meeting, but not because of the royal company.
“I was worried about getting stopped at security with a big box of wires and computer stuff. Thankfully they had been briefed about what I was bringing so we got in.”
Aoibheann gave a demonstration of her project which consists of dolls that interact with a scratch program that she coded. They are designed to describe hospital experiences and are for children going into hospital who are scared and show them what might happen to them.
“I gave them a demo of my project and they asked me questions all about it like why I made it and how long it took. They loved the project and I even presented Meghan with her own Hospital Holly Doll which Harry asked could they rename … he never said to what when I said they could.”
This year’s European Digital Girl of the Year, Aoibeann described the day as ‘amazing’ and was thrilled to feature in a tweet from Kensington Palace where she is pictured explaining her project to the royals.