HRH The Countess of Wessex officially opens the Holybourne campus

21 May 2012

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On May 17, we were delighted to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO to officially open our new Holybourne campus.

The opening was the culmination of five years of planning and hard work which resulted in the bringing together of the School and College on a single site.

As Treloar’s Royal patron, HRH the Countess of Wessex was invited to perform the opening, a task we are pleased she accepted.

Also attending the event were more than 100 guests made up of supporters, donors and funders, patrons, governors, trustees, local dignitaries and former staff members.

Appropriately, the Countess started her visit at Wessex House, which had been beautifully decorated with paper flowers and butterflies made by students. After a formal welcome from Damon de Laszlo, Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, the Countess was shown round the house by care manager Marilyn Walker, starting at the Blueberry Lounge.

Here, Ben Dearsley, the student who had been selected to accompany the Countess during her visit, explained how the kitchen equipment had been adapted to suit people with disabilities, and how students used this room to learn practical ways of increasing their independence.

The Countess was clearly impressed, commenting “They seem to have thought of everything.”

Next it was on to the Parker bathroom, where Natasha gave a (fully clothed) demonstration of how to use the specialised bath, and this was then followed by a visit to a standard bedroom where Gabby showed the Countess equipment in the room to help with mobility. In the final part of the Wessex House the Countess was shown a high-dependency unit where she, again, looked at the facilities, and also chatted to Lucy and Chloe.

From Wessex House, the Countess went on to visit the School’s new teaching block, with the first stop being at the music room where Jo Jo, Lucy, Daniel, Daisy, Tamsin and Darcey were having a lesson with teacher Jocelyn Watkins. Here the Countess talked to the students and discovered how they communicate using different types of equipment.

The next class to visit was Jenny Judge’s Year 10 maths group who told the Countess – again using communication devices in some cases - all about their fundraising efforts to help an Indian boy Ashish, who has cerebral palsy and lives in a Mumbai slum. The Countess was delighted to hear that the students had raised £500 and were now considering how the money could be spent appropriately to ensure maximum benefit to Ashish.

The Countess said to the students: “It was a very nice thing to do and well done.”

It then came to the main matter of the day – the unveiling of the commemorative plaque – which took place in the Jowett Centre.

Our visitors, along with students and staff, gathered to hear Chair of Trustees Bruce Powell give a short speech, outlining the history of Treloar’s, and adding that our founder Sir William Purdie Treloar would be proud to see what had been achieved through the Vision project.

He said: “This day marks the next great step in the history of Treloar’s. It has taken us five years to develop Vision Treloar’s and today is the formal recognition of this.

“The design is very special. We have had positive feedback from staff and students and it brings an easier way to work for staff and has benefits for students.”

Treloar’s chaplain Mark Birch then blessed the new campus before HRH the Countess of Wessex unveiled the plaque.

She said: “I would like to congratulate all of you involved with this campaign. I know how hard you have worked and the students are very grateful. It really is a pleasure to perform this duty.”

The plaque will be permanently attached to the wooden wall of the Jowett Centre in the near future.

After lunch, Ben Dearsley presented the Countess with a small bouquet and some cakes made by Treloar’s students. The Countess then left, but not before stopping to chat to some of the students who had lined up outside the Jowett Centre, waving their Diamond Jubilee flags, to bid her farewell.

Everyone involved agreed the visit was a great success and the Countess was clearly interested in the work of Treloar’s and impressed by what she saw.

Speaking of the visit, Ben Dearsley said: “I was honoured to be chosen to accompany the Countess. The visit went really well and she was very relaxed and open. It was a really good day.”

Finally, after a cheque presentation to Treloar’s by the Worshipful Company of Carmen in the newly named Pike Hall, our remaining guests then spent an hour or so touring the campus, visiting a number of classes and talking to students about their work. Before they, too, departed, many took the time to say what an enjoyable and interesting day they had had.


Pictured right: Top: HRH The Countess of Wessex unveiled the commemorative plaque

Middle: Students and staff gave HRH a warm welcome

Bottom: HRH visiting Jenny Judge's maths class

Author: Halima Crabtree

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