Princess Royal opens Harpenden school's new buildings

PUBLISHED: 12:45 23 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

Princess Anne enjoys a tour of St George's School accompanied by Norman Hoare, Lady Verulam and Kevin Parsons

Princess Anne enjoys a tour of St George's School accompanied by Norman Hoare, Lady Verulam and Kevin Parsons

STAFF and pupils at St George s School, Harpenden, found themselves in the presence of royalty when HRH Princess Anne formally opened two new multi-million pound school buildings. The Heather Jarvis Sports Centre, which includes a gym, sports hall and dan

Princess Anne and chairman of governors Kevin Parsons officially open the Kevin Parsons building

STAFF and pupils at St George's School, Harpenden, found themselves in the presence of royalty when HRH Princess Anne formally opened two new multi-million pound school buildings.

The Heather Jarvis Sports Centre, which includes a gym, sports hall and dance studios, and the Kevin Parsons Building which will become the school's new centre for modern languages, cost the school a combined £7.84 million to develop.

The Princess Royal, who arrived on the Queen's royal helicopter, was given a tour of the sports centre's facilities by headmaster Norman Hoare and Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, the Countess of Verulam, during Thursday's visit.

"Getting sports centres when you want them is not easy. You are all to be congratulated. Naming it the Heather Jarvis Centre shows the family connection that is so important here. I hope everyone will be very proud of it," Her Royal Highness said.

The centre is named after former pupil Heather Jarvis, who was an ambulance driver on one of the last boats out of Dunkirk, and lived a full and active life in Harpenden. A member of the Jarvis family of builders, she is said to reflect the school's ethos of aiming higher.

The Princess Royal and Lady Verulam proceeded across the main playground lined with pupils and staff to be introduced to chairman of governors Kevin Parsons. Mr Parsons played a key role in negotiating funding from the Department for Children, School and Families and Hertfordshire County Council for the building carrying his name.

"The generational aspect is obviously very important to the school and the families that have been referred to today have done a fantastic job," said Lady Verulam.

Her Royal Highness proceeded to the school's chapel where she was presented with a cheque for £1,000 for the Save the Children Fund, the charity she has been president of since 1970.

"It's rare, very rare to have a school which has been able to be so consistent in its fundraising activities," she told the 350 pupils gathered in the audience.

"All donations are accepted no matter what they are. But our history has been much valued and has certainly endured. Whilst the Save the Children Fund appears in St George's archives, St George's also appears in our own archives as the school that has given so consistently over the history of the fund," the Princess said.

"I think it's very impressive how the school has managed to raise so much money in such a difficult time," said Lady Verulam.

Princess Anne took the time to speak to pupils about life at the school and the work they have produced.

Mr Hoare said: "All our 1,280 pupils and 150 staff saw HRH The Princess Royal as she toured the buildings for an hour and a quarter.

"They will carry with them memories of the event which they will tell their own children just as those present at her first visit in 1987 remember the day with great pride.

"Her visit brought an exciting period of development to a formal conclusion.

"Her Royal Highness was quick to realise how much the strength of community at St George's contributes to its success.

"I am pleased that all the hard work that went into the arrangements produced such a successful visit," Mr Parsons said afterwards.

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