It was a great honour and pleasure to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO to The Abbey to launch celebrations of our 130th anniversary year. Upon arrival, Her Royal Highness was welcomed by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, Felicity Rutland DL, who is herself a former Head Girl, parent and Chair of Governors of the School.
Mrs Dent and Mrs D-C introduced The Countess to girls in Reception, before venturing outside to join Prep girls who were busy planting lettuce seeds in the School garden. They were eager to share what they were doing with The Countess, who was most impressed at their endeavours. A chat with Lower I girls followed, during which they explained the skills they’d been learning in rounders. The Countess was keen to know which other sports they enjoyed.
Next, it was the turn of Upper II girls to share the work they’ve been doing on designing flood-resistant housing. The Countess was very interested and asked the girls how they planned to test their designs. HRH remarked that she is visiting flood-prone Bangladesh later this year and will see houses of similar design for real.
After the Chamber Choir performed The School Song beautifully, Mrs D-C invited The Countess to unveil a commemorative plaque. Savia and Erin thanked The Countess for visiting and explained how pleased we were to welcome such an important guest. Hermione and India presented a posy of flowers before The Countess met with School Council representatives who were working on theming our annual Fun Run around the anniversary.
On arrival at the Senior School The Countess was greeted by Head of the Senior School Mrs Cresswell and Head Girls Fran, Emma and Jana. There was then an opportunity for HRH to meet students who are undertaking some of the many activities that contribute to the School’s busy life. The Countess was keen to hear from girls doing their Duke of Edinburgh’s Silver and Gold Awards and asked about expedition locations and the volunteering aspect of the programme, including the refugee homework club. On hearing that some of the girls have their first GCSE examination tomorrow The Countess wished them good luck. HRH was also keen to hear our Sixth Form girls’ plans for university and beyond. As Patron of the London College of Fashion, The Countess had a keen interest in the outstanding textiles on display and admired the superb art installations. The Countess then moved on to chat with drama students and our budding businesswomen who are taking part in the Young Enterprise and the Microloan competition.
Next was an opportunity to meet some of members of the newly launched Abbey Fellowship, comprising former staff, former pupils, former Governors and former Heads who have made an outstanding contribution to the School. Mrs Dent thanked HRH for honouring the School with a visit on this special day. Head Girls Emma and Jana presented HRH with a ceramic bowl designed and made by alumna Emma Alington (2007) before The Countess gave a short speech recognising the success of the School and offering her congratulations on the anniversary.
The launch of our 130th anniversary celebrations is in itself a very special occasion, made even more so by the visit from HRH The Countess of Wessex whose genuine warmth and interest in the pupils wonderfully reflected the warmth of The Abbey Community. It is with enormous gratitude that we thanked Her Royal Highness for joining us and we look forward with great enthusiasm to a year of celebrating our remarkable School.
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