HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex- Visit to Sunnydown School on 8th September

8th September is a day that will stay in our thoughts for many years to come. For many because this was the day our beloved Queen Elizabeth II sadly passed away, but for our charity it is also a date  that will bring some very happy memories too!

Due to the period of official royal mourning, we have been unable to share our story until now.

We were delighted when HRH Sophie, The Countess of Wessex agreed to visit a number of projects, that we have funded at Sunnydown School in Caterham. The Countess has keenly followed CWSNF for a number of years, so it was a pleasure to be able to show her, how much we have achieved with the help of our supporters donations!

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The visit started with HRH being introduced to Gordon & Ann, founders of the Charity, followed Pauline Way, Chairman and Paul Jensen, The Headmaster of Sunnydown. The Countess was also introduced to some of our Patrons, Fiona Rickard, Ian Irving, Nicky Morris & Peter Robinson, Caroline Coates and our supporters from British Airways. 


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HRH was shown around a renovated Flint shed, which was converted into a Cycle Workshop, with the help of CWSNF funding. The bike shed has given the boys the chance to learned skills regarding how to repair bikes, which could lead to job opportunities. HRH was shown how to replace a wheel by the students and then had a go herself to replace a seat back onto a bike.


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Next stop was The Burger Van. Not what you would normally expect to see at a school, but this one carries out many important functions – teaching the boys social skills, money handling and the students are then able to attain a food handling certificate, which could lead to a job after studies have been competed. Not only that, but when the school takes it out to events , it earns money to contribute towards new projects at Sunnydown ! HRH was shown burgers being cooked and how the van has been used to help the students. She was later presented with a CWSNF Apron to use in her in kitchen at Bagshot Park. 

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Next on the tour, HRH was taken through the school walled garden and out across the playground towards a new Wallaby enclosure. The school has recently taken delivery of a couple of Wallabies and CWSNF , with the help of Blumson Timber, donated the wood for the enclosure! HRH was introduced to Rachel & Freddie Blumson alongside Tom & Debra Broderick and Malcolm Way from the CWSNF Committee.


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After a short walk across the grass, HRH was then invited to plant a Rose to mark the Queens Platinum Jubilee. The Elizabeth R Rose was planted at the top of the new Sensory Garden, which was funded by CWSNF. The garden , with its Fire Pit, is a great place for the boys to be able to learn and relax, away from the classroom learning environment.

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After walking through the Sensory Garden , HRH was shown into the Summer House, again funded by CWSNF. The Summer House , also has a central fire pit, that can be used during the winter, making the Summer House an all year round building. Some students, seated inside, read some poetry for The Countess and talked about how the Summer House has helped them with their learning. A student then presented HRH with A Bonsai Tree, as a momento of her day in the garden.

The Countess’ visit was literally, the day before 8 Lucky boys from Sunnydown headed off for a Trip of a Lifetime to Florida. So we were delighted that HRH was able to meet the boys and present them with their tickets for their up coming adventure. Before departing there was just enough time for HRH to join onto a Zoom call to Orlando Florida, which included all our amazing supporters in the US. They really are pivotal to making the Florida visit, such a huge success! While the Zoom Call took place, there was the most almighty thunder storm, which shook the pergola above us all! Many of our friends from Florida, remarked that it was just like the Florida Storms!!


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Before HRH left Sunnydown School, there was just enough time for her to unveil a Plaque to commemorate her visit and then be presented with posy By Louise Waite & Nick Ivil ( who was the inspiration for our Charity!)


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We feel blessed that HRH was able to join us on this day and see for herself the great work that CWSNF is able to achieve, with the help of our Patrons and many loyal supporters!

Quite a day for us and as it subsequently turned out, a momentous one for our Royal Family too!