Princess gives royal seal of approval to hall, school and rescue HQ
ROYALTY descended on Upper Eden on Tuesday when Princess Anne visited Warcop parish hall, Kirkby Stephen Grammar School and the Kirkby Stephen mountain rescue team base.
Flown into Warcop by helicopter, the princess’ first port of call was the new Warcop parish hall, where she was greeted by a crowd of flag-waving pupils from the village primary school.
She was shown round the new hall by trustees Ray Bromby and Joyce Keetley and introduced to the team of trustees and hall volunteers.
Representatives from the Big Lottery, Cumbria Community Foundation, Eden District Council and the Frieda Scott Trust had been invited to attend, in recognition of the financial support given towards the construction of the hall. Members of the design and construction teams showed Princess Anne a display of photographs and plans — from the cutting of the first sod by longest serving trustee, Les Baines, to the finished building.
She also looked at photographs of the floods caused by Storm Desmond and met local residents whose homes and farms had been affected.
The princess unveiled a slate plaque to commemorate the official opening of the hall and Darcy Brass and Charlie Dinsdale, both pupils at Warcop Primary School, presented her with a posy.
The official opening of the new hall is the culmination of 16 years of hard work by trustees, supporters and the community to replace two old village halls in Warcop and Sandford, which had both been in need of significant investment.
From there, Princess Anne was transported to Kirkby Stephen Grammar School, where her visit marked the school’s 450th anniversary.
Prior to her arrival students from both the grammar school and town’s primary school excitedly gathered, many waving Union Jack flags. She was greeted by chairman of governors Simon Bennett, headteacher Ruth Houston and head boy and girl Thomas Burrell and Megan Capstick.
After meeting senior members of staff and governors, the royal visitor was shown into the sports hall where children who are part of the equestrian team, netball, rugby and hockey teams greeted her while others displayed their sporting skills.
A decorated equestrian star herself — the first member of the royal family to compete in the Olympic Games, the princess took a keen interest in speaking to the school’s equestrian team riders Marianna and Elloise Stephenson and Annabel Dickinson.
Marianna said the princess had been very friendly and interested in what kind of events they compete in and how far they have to travel. She also inquired if they are allowed to train in school time and when told not, she revealed she had been allowed horseriding lessons one afternoon each week in her school days!
Head of PE Helen Paul also spoke to the princess, along with pupil Catherine Marsden who is the school netball team captain and also a player in the county and Northumbria teams. She also chatted to PE teacher Jonathan Foxcroft and county rugby player and Kirkby pupil Andrew Leech and hockey players Nicholas McWhirter and Megan Allen.
In the school’s coffee bar, she was treated to harp performances by sisters Elspeth and Cliona Clarke, aged 14 and 12. She also met members of the school council and inquired about how they contribute to the running of the school.
The royal visitor was treated to an array of goods for lunch, all prepared by year 10 and 11 catering pupils. One of these treats was a quail’s egg Scotch egg which, on a following tour of the catering department with head of home technology Jo Barker, Princess Anne inquired about.
The princess also visited sixth form students in the art department where she spoke to head of art Suzie Whealans and student Sarah Thornborrow.
She was then given a tour of the school’s design and technology department before unveiling a special commemorative plaque outside the school to mark its anniversary.
Following the visit, Mr. Bennett said: “We are exceptionally proud to be able to show off our school. It’s not every day you can say a school has been educating a community for 450 years so it’s great to show it off to a member of the royal family.”
Prior to leaving the school the Princess was presented with a posy of flowers by 14-year-old pupil Benjamin Cotterell who is undergoing treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma.
It was a family affair for the Cotterell family as the Princess Royal then made her way across from the school to Kirkby Stephen mountain rescue team base where she was met by Benjamin’s father, and mountain rescue team leader, Adrian Cotterell.
Members of the team, along with supporters and friends of the voluntary organisation, had gathered to meet the princess and talk about some of the work they do.
This included founding member Heb Lumley and also former leader Arthur Littlefair who continues to be an active member of the team. Mr. Littlefair said the princess had shown a real knowledge of their work.
Members of Upper Eden community first responders were also present, including first responder Lucy Brass and her seven-year-old daughter Maisy who presented the princess with a bouquet of flowers as she ended her visit to Kirkby Stephen.
Following her visit to Upper Eden, the Princess Royal made her way to Windermere where she visited the Save the Children UK shop, a charity which she is patron of, as they celebrated its 50th anniversary.