Shannon gets a special hug from Sophie

The Countess of Wessex with Shannon
The Countess of Wessex with Shannon

There was a special thrill for 12-year-old Shannon Betts from Newton Stewart recently when she met the Countess of Wessex in Dumfries.

Shannon was at a reception, held in Easterbrook Hall, representing Dumfries and Galloway Befriending Project.

The Befriending Project exists to match selected and suitably qualified adult befrienders with vulnerable young people, with the aim of making a positive difference in the young person’s life. Each match will develop an individual support programme, typically lasting from 6 to 18 months, with specific target outcomes according to the needs of the young person.

Shannon and her befriender Ruth Nicol called into The Galloway Gazette to speak about their day with Royalty.

Shannon said: “Meeting the Countess of Wessex was fandabidoozi! She spent a lot of time talking to me and I was telling her that I spent a lot of time caring for my mum and at the end she gave me a big hug. I was a bit surprised by that as you don’t know if you can touch a royal person or not!

“I am very grateful to Ruth for all she does for me as my befriender. It was the best day of my life.”

This summer the Befrienders project will be taking local kids den building and orienteering in Kirroughtree Forest Park; to Cream o’ Galloway at Rainton for a day trip; to Loch Ken for an activities taster day and in August, there is a trip to Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling planned.

If you want to know more about the Befriending Project go to their website or email