HELENSBURGH is to play host to a royal visitor this week for the official opening of a refurbished community centre in the town.

HRH the Princess Royal will visit the town's Drumfork Community Centre, which opened to the local service community, and the wider public, in October after a £2 million refurbishment.

The project was funded by the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC), which announced the forthcoming royal visit via Twitter on Monday.

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The refurbishment was carried out by Helensburgh building contractor Stewart and Shields Ltd., and was overseen by the MoD's Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).

Other financial support for the project was provided by Greenwich Hospital and the Royal Naval Association.

This week's visit – for which exact details are being kept under wraps for security reasons – will be the third to Helensburgh and the surrounding area by Princess Anne, who is the RNRMC's patron, in the past 18 months.

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In September 2018 she met some of the participants in the Blind Match Racing World Championship, hosted by the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club in the waters off Helensburgh.

And in July last year she took part in celebrations at Faslane to mark 50 years of the Royal Navy's continuous at-sea deterrent (CASD) operation, before officially opening the Scottish Submarine Centre in Helensburgh itself.

The centre has been open to the public since the autumn, and already plays host to a variety of activities aimed both at locally-based Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families, and at the wider public.

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Those include exercise and yoga classes, a craft group and the 'Males' Tales' mental health hub, which aims to provide a safe environment for men – civilians as well as those in the armed services – to talk to each other without any pressure or judgement.

The centre opened its doors with a Hallowe'en 'Spooktacular' event back in October, and has also hosted a visit from author Vivien French MBE, who spoke to pupils from the area's schools in November about her work with Reading Force, a charity which encourages military families to read books together, whether at home or by using modern technology while parents are away on deployment.

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