Bolton School Junior Girls

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Visits Bolton School

Pupils and staff at Bolton School were delighted to welcome Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, in the Foundation’s Centenary Year to learn more about the School’s Duke of Edinburgh and volunteering work. The Royal visitor’s planned arrival by helicopter on the Girls’ Division lacrosse pitch was unfortunately curtailed by bad weather and he landed instead at Manchester Airport. However, his arrival by car a little later than expected was nonetheless given a warm welcome by pupils from all areas of the School waving Union Jack flags. His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex was received by the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Mr Warren J Smith and The Clerk to the Lieutenancy, Canon Paul Denby, and despite the drizzle made time to speak to several children on his way to the Arts Centre. There the Lord Lieutenant introduced Prince Edward to The High Sheriff of Greater Manchester, The Mayor of Bolton Councillor Carole Swarbrick, and to the Headmistress of the Girls’ Division, Sue Hincks, the Headmaster of the Boys’ Division, Philip Britton, and the Chairman of Governors, Michael Griffiths.

Miss Hincks guided the Prince around a Duke of Edinburgh display in the Sports Hall, where he spoke with pupils about their adventures and took an interest in each group’s plans for gaining their Bronze, Silver or Gold level awards.

Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator Mrs Sarah Waters said: “We have a big Duke of Edinburgh tradition at our school and I was delighted for the pupils that met the Earl of Wessex as they put so much effort into their volunteering, developing skills, undertaking physical activities and this was a great reward for them.  I think the enduring appeal of the Award is the wide variety of activities that pupils can become involved in as they develop their independence and team-working skills.”

Fellow Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator Mr Richard Kellet said: “The Prince’s visit means a lot and will help inspire pupils to go beyond the Bronze Award and to step outside of their comfort zone by undertaking the significant challenges of the Silver and Gold Awards.  We have just introduced a coast to coast bicycle challenge as part of the Silver Award where pupils have to plan their routes, their kit and accommodation and then complete the trip.”

After meeting with Duke of Edinburgh participants, Prince Edward was taken through to the Arts Centre. There he was introduced to School Captain Chris Pantelides, Head Girl Sarah Ibberson, and eight other students from the Senior Schools. He was able to speak briefly to each pupil about their chosen voluntary work before settling down to listen to Alexandra Hopkinson and Sam Hassall, who gave short presentations about their efforts helping out in the local community. Each year, students at Bolton School offer over 10,000 hours of voluntary work, and this gave him an idea of the wide range of activities and areas in which pupils make a difference.

Mr Griffiths took the podium to thank Prince Edward for his visit during the Centenary Year, and explained a little more about the School and the debt it owes to Lord Leverhulme. He then invited the Prince to unveil a plaque commemorating his visit one hundred years after the Bolton School Foundation formally came into existence.

Miss Hincks said: “It has been a great pleasure to welcome HRH The Earl of Wessex, the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, The High Sheriff of Greater Manchester and the Mayor of Bolton to Bolton School.  Prince Edward was genuinely interested in our work and asked a good deal of thoughtful questions; he particularly liked meeting pupils who talked to him about the challenges and fun they have whilst learning new skills and helping others as they undertake the Duke of Edinburgh Award.” 

Mr Britton added, “The Earl was also very eager to learn about all the hours of work that our pupils, particularly the Sixth Form students, commit to helping out others in the local community.  He spenttime talking with students and learnt a little more about our School before unveiling a plaque celebrating 100 years of the Bolton School Foundation, Girls’ Division and Boys’ Division.”

The Earl of Wessex went on to visit Bolton University Technical College and The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.

Following the Prince’s departure, Head Girl Sarah said, “He talked to me about my volunteering and Duke of Edinburgh experiences and he listened attentively as I told him about my mentoring in English and my netball playing. He was genuinely interested and asked thoughtful questions.”

School Captain Chris said, “I spoke with the Prince about my work at Beechville Care Home and also my work in helping deliver football coaching sessions to younger boys.  He was very easy to talk with.”

The School’s Head of Community Action, Mrs Sophie Entwistle, summed up the visit, saying, “It has been a fantastic morning and we were delighted to tell the Earl of Wessex how we are carrying on the tradition of our pupils working in the local community; something which Lord Leverhulme instilled in our ethos when he founded The Bolton School Foundation one hundred years ago. It is important that our students, who enjoy such great teachers and resources here, understand how and what they can give back to society.”


To watch a video documenting Prince Edward's visit, click here or press the play button below:

Prince Edward was warmly greeted by Bolton School pupils waving Union Jack flags

Prince Edward was warmly greeted by Bolton School pupils waving Union Jack flags

The Earl of Wessex chatted to the School's Duke of Edinburgh participants about their plans

The Earl of Wessex chatted to the School's Duke of Edinburgh participants about their plans

Young volunteers share their experiences with the Prince

Young volunteers share their experiences with the Prince