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Princess Anne makes a school and fire station stop in Cambridge

Supporting the local education system, Princess Anne visited the Neale-Wade Academy this week. The Royal visit was a reward to the school to highlight the hard work and dedication the staff and students have exhibited in improving the education opportunities to the community.

Approximately three years ago, Neale-Wade Academy, a secondary school in March, Cambridgeshire, was in serious need of improvement. The Principal, Mr Jason Wing, joined the institution with a mission and he partnered with the Active Learning Trust in 2013 to achieve it.

The vision of the Active Learning Trust “is to maximise our impact at school level, both with schools in need of significant improvement and with those that are already outstanding (especially with outstanding leadership and/or attainment) and that have a desire to develop and use their expertise to support others.” This vision statement couldn’t describe what Mr Wing had in mind for Neale-Wade Academy any more perfectly.

The chief executive of the Active Learning Trust, Clive Bush, said of Mr Wing, “Having worked with Jason over the course of the last 18 months, I’ve seen first-hand the amount of hard work and determination that he has put into the Academy, and I am delighted that his efforts are being recognised with a Royal Visit.”

The Princess Royal arrived at the Academy and was met by Mr Wing, MP Steve Barclay and his wife Karen and Councillor Kit Owen, the Mayor of March, and Councillor Ken Mayor, chairman of Fenland Council. Also a part of the welcoming committee was Year 4 Students, accompanied by their head Anna Goffe. After walking through a two line guard of honour manned by selected Army and Air Force cadets from Neale-Wade Academy, Princess Anne toured the classes of Year 9 students studying English, Year 10 students studying maths, and Year 12 students studying Computer Sciences. The Princess Royal also unveiled a plaque commemorating her visit and was presented with a posy by student, Isobel Mawby.

Mr Wing was especially excited about the visit for he knew the positive impact it would have on the Academy’s pupils, “We could never have envisioned receiving a Royal visit, and it is something of which we are very proud, I in particular as a former student here as well as the current principal. The academy has undergone a rapid transformation over the past couple of years, one that has not been without its challenges, but that was well worth all the hard work involved, not only for this particular recognition from a member of the Royal Family, but also for the exceptional results achieved by our students.”

After her visit at the Neal-Wade Academy, Princess Anne marked the official opening of the new Parkside Place Community Fire and Rescue Station and Hundred Houses Society affordable housing scheme Chester House. Her Royal Highness was welcomed to the Fire Station by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer Graham Stagg and Chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority Sir Peter Brown.  Princess Anne was presented with a posy by the children of two firefighters.

Also on hand to greet The Princess Royal were local school children from St Matthew’s Primary School and Parkside Federation Academies, who created artwork to decorate the fire station.

CFO Craham Stagg stated, “We hope by meeting firefighters, community safety workers and our support staff based at the fire station that The Princess Royal has had a good insight into not just the operational service we provide for Cambridge but also how preventing fires in the community is just as important in this modern fire and rescue service.”

This official opening has been two years in the making for the fire crews moved into the new station, which is situated on the same grounds as the old fire station, in June 2013. The Parkside Place residential development was completed in 2014 and provides 100 new homes, including 30 affordable homes managed by Hundred Houses Society. These homes provide a place for people to live who can’t afford a home according to the Cambridge price market.

Rebecca O’Shaughnessey and her husband Steven, welcomed Princess Anne into their home with Hundred Houses Society.

Chris Jackson, Chief Executive of Hundred Houses Society, remarked: “The Princess was interested to learn that the O’Shaughnessy’s found their new home warm and conveniently close to work, when they previously had to travel 45 minutes each way. I think Princess Anne appreciated how important it is to provide affordable homes in cities such as Cambridge.”

Photo Credit: Mark Hakansson

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