Date published: Mon 14 May 2018
Author: B. Gibson-Patteux
In true Whitgift form, the sun was shining for the special occasion. Following a rousing welcome by the Whitgift Corps of Drums, the Duke was met by the Headmaster, senior members of staff, prefects and representatives of the Whitgift Foundation and Governors.
The Duke of York then enjoyed a short musical recital by Marian Bozhidarov, Lower Sixth Form Music Scholar, who played Czardas by Vittorio Monti, before making his way to meet the key staff and boys involved in the CCF and Corps of Drums.
The Duke was then introduced to staff involved in Whitgift’s Primary School Project. Since 2000, the School has been offering primary aged children from more than 30 schools across the Borough of Croydon, the opportunity to spend time at Whitgift. The learning experience the School is able to offer the visiting pupils is very different to their normal school week, with specialist Whitgift staff allocated to teach, support and encourage the pupils in subjects as varied as animation to German, and African drumming to sketching Whitgift’s wildlife. The Duke enjoyed chatting to a group of Selsdon Primary School Year 5 pupils, who enthused about the projects that they had been working on at Whitgift that week.
The party made their way to the School’s water garden, which underwent a major refurbishment in 2017, with new waterfalls, bridges, lighting, planting schemes, a teaching hub, and the installation of a new circular path making the entire route around the garden fully accessible. Members of the Maintenance, Estates and Gardening teams were on hand to take The Duke on a tour of the site, discussing the extensive (and challenging) renovation project and also the wildlife which call the water garden home.
The Headmaster addressed the gathered staff, special guests, pupils and friends of Whitgift to introduce the Patron and thank him for his continued support over the years. The Duke took to the podium and, after joking with the crowd about how he inevitably finds himself unveiling plaques and planting trees in his royal duties, he moved onto a serious note, remarking what an excellent school Whitgift is, with a multitude of opportunities available to the boys. An engraved plaque was unveiled, officially naming the garden the Duke of York Water Garden, in honour of the Patron. The Duke of York then planted a June Berry tree to complement the flourishing new planting scheme.
The final instalment in the Royal visit was a lunch in the Barnett Sports and Conference Centre, which included several boys with entrepreneurial achievements, whom the Duke took great interest in speaking to, reflecting his background in supporting young people with entrepreneurial spirit.
The School wishes to thank all of those involved in the visit who helped show Whitgift at its finest. The School looks forward to welcoming The Duke of York again in the not too distant future.