Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal honoured Concord with a visit to celebrate the College’s Diamond Jubilee on Tuesday 1st December. The occasion was the first royal visit in the college’s 60 year history and she is the first member of the royal family to visit Acton Burnell since 1283.
VIP guests who attended a lunch before The Princess arrived included Mr Malcolm Pate, Chairman of Shropshire Council and Mrs Sue Pate, former Principal of Concord Mr Tony Morris and Mrs Gaynor Morris and representatives from the local community included Mrs Gaye Bruce-Smyth, Sir John Donne, Rev Michael Gillions and councillor Mr Tim Barker.
During her visit the Princess met students, staff and visitors, saw English, maths and humanities classes, and was entertained by samba drummers outside and with a short cultural show in the theatre that was ‘a journey round the world’ as African, Malaysian and Russian dancers reflected just a few of the many different cultures at the college.
The Princess Royal was told on her official visit to Concord College, the international school at Acton Burnell, near Shrewsbury, that the real key to its success was its ethos. Principal Neil Hawkins said Concord welcomed students from around the world to be educated in what he called ‘this special community based on decency and trust’.
He told the Princess: “We encourage them to be the best they can be. But these are just words. The people who have put these words into practice have been the generations of teachers, house parents, support staff, trustees and principals who have shared this vision and given so much to enable our students to be successful. I would like to thank them all. 2009 is Concord’s 60th anniversary year. We are all hopeful that the next 60 years will be as successful as the last.”
He wondered when Concord was established in 1949 if its founders would have imagined this moment. He said the college had gone from strength to strength in the last 60 years. The move to Acton Burnell, becoming a charitable trust along with far-sighted management had enabled Concord to develop into ‘one of the world’s premier international schools.’
He then invited the Princess to join him on the stage of Concord’s theatre to unveil a plaque to commemorate this special day. She also cut a birthday cake and students and staff sang a ‘happy birthday Concord’.
Afterwards, Mr. Hawkins said the Princess had ‘really enjoyed’ her visit to Concord and she said she wished she could have spent more time at the college.
“She showed a real interest in what we are doing here. It was a marvellous honour to share this special day with Her Royal Highness. It was very flattering that she actually spent so much time with us and we were very lucky,” he added.
Emily Megoran, the fourth member of her family to attend the college, presented the Princess with a posy and welcomed her to Concord. Emily said the Princess had commented on the weather and hoped Emily was ‘not too cold’.
Hannah Nijsten, who danced outside the college in front of samba drums, was told by the Princess ‘they are not the nicest conditions to be dancing.’ “I said it was very cold, but I was fine,” said Hannah.
After the Princess had departed students and guests were invited outside to watch as the Chairman of the Trustees Dr Iain Bride planted the first tree of the Jubilee Arboretum, which will contain 60 trees and shrubs. The students then released 60 balloons into the air to cheers. The afternoon ended with tea and cakes for guests, staff and students.
This historic day will live long in the memories of all those students, staff and guests who were involved or attended. To see more photographs of the day please look in the photo library.