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Posted on: 10/05/2021

HRH The Earl of Wessex visits Christs College

HRH The Earl of Wessex Visits Christ's College

The Earl of Wessex made a visit to Christs College on Wednesday 5th May 2021, to reflect on the opening of Christ's College and Pond Meadow Schools on 23rd June 2009 by his father HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, and share memories of his visit and hear how the DofE programme has evolved.  He also spent time visiting the Duke of Edinburgh Theatre which was opened in The Duke’s name. The Earl also talked to students about their Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) experiences.

The visit started with The Earl being greeted by the Head Girl Inès Cliff and Head Boy Noah Brierly, as well as the Principal Mrs Sarah Hatch and the Headteacher of Pond Meadow School Ms Emily Hayward.  The Earl also stopped to talk to Year 7 students for a few minutes.

The Earl then went into the Atrium to meet the Chair of Governors Mr Stuart Zissman and see the plaque which The Duke of Edinburgh had unveiled during the opening of the school in 2009, he then moved on to talk to three members of staff who met The Duke of Edinburgh when he visited.

Recalling her memory of the visit, Chrissi Thompson, Head of Art, said: "We are a small school, and we felt very privileged and lucky that The Duke of Edinburgh came to open Christ's College and spent such a lot of time with students, engaging with them and showing genuine interest in what they were doing.”

Stuart Kennedy, Assistant Principal, recalled: "I told The Duke of Edinburgh that I was a PE Teacher, and we discussed the school transition from the old school site and how the current school was built on the original rugby pitches which he was really interested in. The children loved his visit and with Prince Philip opening the new school site, Christ's College was reborn.”

Lesley Sandiford, Assistant Principal, said: "When The Duke of Edinburgh visited there was of course lots of organisation and plans for the visit, but The Duke managed to find a closed door and found students who weren't expecting to meet him that day! They loved how he interacted with them and especially how interested he was in them."

The school will celebrate Founders Day on 23rd June 2021 to commemorate the official opening of the new school by the Duke of Edinburgh. 

The Earl was then shown the Duke of Edinburgh Theatre, opened in his father's name, where HRH watched students performing two extracts from our forthcoming College production Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Elis Virgoe who plays Judah (one of the twelve brothers) in the show said "The performance was an incredible experience!  I felt honoured meeting The Earl, he was such a kind person and as a lover of the arts he was great to talk to."

The Earl, a trustee of the DofE Scheme, went back outside and was introduced to Mr Dave Cunnigham our DofE Leader and spoke to students in Year 9 who are just embarking on their Bronze Award.  He chatted to students and watched them demonstrate CPR and cooking on a trangia in preparation for their expedition later this year. The College started running The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award nearly 20 years ago to give young people opportunities to grow and develop.

The Earl spoke to some more Year 9 students and had a final photo opportunity with them before departing.

Principal, Mrs Sarah Hatch said: "We were delighted to welcome HRH The Earl of Wessex to Christ's College today and to share and reflect on The Duke of Edinburgh’s visit in 2009 when he opened our school. The students were really pleased to speak to The Earl, reflecting on their experience of the pandemic and school life as well as their DofE activities, and what the Award has meant to them in the past year. "


Find out more about the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards at Christ's College here 

Since the founding of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 1956, 6.7 million young people across the UK have taken part, helping them grow in confidence, overcome personal challenges and prepare for life.

Written by Peter Coates
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