PRINCE William has formed a strong bond with a former head boy from The Downs school in Colwall.

Mark Dyer (pictured), who was head boy at the preparatory school in 1979, has been helping the future king organise his gap-year activities.

They travelled together in Chile when the prince undertook a 10-week expedition with Raleigh International. He also accompanied him on an environmental project in Mauritius and to Belize, where he underwent a nine-day survival course with the Welsh Guards.

Now the prince has just embarked on a 15-week African trip with Mr Dyer, learning about game conservation and the country's wildlife.

Donald Boyd, the Old Downian honorary secretary and a former pupil and teacher from the school, said he remembers teaching Mr Dyer in the 70s.

"He was not particularly brilliant academically but he was very good at games, particularly rugger, cricket and hockey," said the former classics master.

Mr Dyer has earned the nickname of "Captain Charming" by staff at St James's palace and Mr Boyd said he remembers that he "had a way with him".

"He had a very easy manner and showed a sense of leadership at an early age. He was a very gregarious person and a good mixer," he said.

"I was very pleased to see how he's been getting on but I haven't heard from him in person for some years."