Extremely successful day

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 07:28 14/04/2014
Jane Orphan
Derek Flynn

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Trustee Graham Orphan, Prince William, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Chief Executive Jane Orphan

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Marlburians at the heart of the royal visit were celebrating on Friday for a job well done.

The visit of Prince William and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, went off without a hitch.

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre chief executive Jane Orphan said she had her first uninterrupted sleep in a while on Thursday night, after weeks of hard work ahead of the tour and more than a few sleepless nights.

"[They were] not completely sleepless, but you wake up thinking, ‘did I actually sleep?' "

The work paid off - Orphan said William and Kate's tour of the museum, hosted by Sir Peter Jackson, "couldn't have gone better".

"It was brilliant ... Anyone who has been here knows half an hour isn't long enough, but they got a good idea of what the exhibition is all about and some of the stories, and Peter's passion behind it all."

Continuing benefits were already apparent, with the centre's car park full on Friday morning, she said.

"It has been wonderful, the media coverage and exposure throughout the world."

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the trip to the aviation centre had been "the icing on the cake" of an "extremely successful day".

He and his wife Thelma spent much of the day with William and Kate, who he said were "very easy" to talk to.

"I think Thelma's words were ‘surreal'. We were meant to be introduced by the fellow from the Ministry of Internal Affairs . . . but before he could even get [the introductions] out they lurched forward and introduced themselves. Thelma didn't even get a chance to curtsy."

The mayor talked to Prince William about the Seymour Square clock tower and the Marlborough wine industry, with the prince commenting that the "rows and rows" of vineyards he saw as he flew in had made him "a wee bit thirsty", Sowman said.

Both William and Kate had been impressed by the number of people who turned out to see them.

"When we said goodbye he thanked us and said this was something special ... I don't think he expected to see the turnout in a small town like this, and the enthusiasm."

Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston said having the eyes of the world on Marlborough had been great for the region.

"We're stoked, absolutely. So proud of Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, and thrilled with the Wednesday night [media-only] event [at the centre].

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Johnston said it had been "really nice" to see comments about Marlborough on Twitter, many from international media who had had the opportunity to meet Marlborough winemakers at the event in person.

"You couldn't have asked for a better result."

She would now be working with the Tourism New Zealand personnel in Britain and Europe in an effort to boost visitor numbers to next year's Classic Fighters Marlborough airshow.

Royal tour worth the expense

- The Marlborough Express

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