PRINCE Charles tried his hand at stone carving on a visit to his dream development in Poundbury.

He chiselled a piece of Portland stone on a trip to open the new Weymouth College Construction and Training Centre.

The Prince gave the new centre the royal seal of approval. He led guests on a walk around the development and handed over keys for a new van to the Dorset branch of the Samaritans.

As well as turning his hand to masonry on a tour of the construction centre workshop, he chatted to stone masonry students.

Jonathan Weeden, 27, of Buckland Ripers, who was carving a fireplace, said: “Prince Charles wanted to know about what I was making and what I did before the course.

“He was interested in the natural beauty of the stone and how I’m going to incorporate it into the feature.”

Mature student Emil Thompson, 46, added: “He was very amiable, a very nice guy and we had a good laugh.”

Lecturer Richard Mortimer then handed the prince a pair of safety spectacles for him to have a go at carving a slab, using a steel dummy and letter cutting chisel.

Mr Mortimer said: “He did really well, he picked the chisel up and just went straight into it. He didn’t hold back at all.

“I asked if he had done it before and he said he had had a little go.”

As the prince unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of the centre, he said: “It is an enormous delight for me to be able to see this new centre, which I have watched rising from the ground on various visits to Poundbury.

“As somebody who cares deeply about the development of skills and talent and bringing the potential of people to the fore, I couldn’t be more pleased to see what is happening here.”

Prince Charles also joked: “The only thing I have been able to do is make a complete fool of myself when having a go.

“It makes me even more appreciative of the amazing skill that is needed to do this sort of work.”

The prince also had an escorted tour of one of the ‘tucal’ mud huts currently on the site by Richard and Claire Budd.

The huts were built as part of the Dorchester couple’s fundraising efforts for the Grace Secondary School project in Sudan.

Mrs Budd said: “He was really interested and asked all about the work we were doing. He was also asking about what is going to happen after the huts are taken down as we are hoping they will go to a school.”

Prince Charles, who has been patron of the Samaritans since 1999, then presented the Dorset branch of the charity with the keys to ‘Sam’s Van’.

The group spent a year raising £5,000 to pay for the vehicle, which will travel round the local area extending the work of the Samaritans.