The Countess of Wessex recently visited Ridgway School in Surrey. Sophie supports a number of national and local charities that assist children with a range of disabilities. While at Ridgway, she toured the facility, met staff, local dignitaries, students and participated in activities with students in order to gain a full experience of what is expected of its pupils.
Her visit was facilitated by the Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey, Diana Prain. Ridgway is a high-rated school with an ethos that challenges barriers; it holds all its students who are disabled to high standards, promoting a positive understanding of those with disabilities and ensuring that there is ‘A Voice for All.’
During her visit, Sophie met local dignitaries and politicians associated with the county and Ridgway, including Richard Whittington (High Sheriff of Surrey), Sally Marks (Chairman of Surrey County Council), Chris Storey and Judith Storey (Mayor and Mayoress of Waverley), John Ward and Gillian Ward (Mayor and Mayoress of Farnham), Mark Rosling (Chair of Governors), Wyatt Ramsdale (County Councillor, Farnham South) Diana Prain DL (past patron), Helen Benson (parent and Chair of Friends of Ridgeway), Ann Marie Funk (parent, Friends of Ridgeway), Cathy Billet (trustee), Martin Billett (horticulture lead), Jim Bawn (governor and volunteer), Yasmine Prichard (school business manager), Jane Van Den Broeke (Surrey school officer).
The Countess was greeted outside the school by a cheering crowd waving flags before deputy head teacher Jayne Moore escorted her inside. She then began her tour of the high-tech interactive school.
She was served strawberries by students in the PECS Cafe (Pictorial Exchange Communication System). She viewed students in the hydrotherapy pool, the sensory garden and then watched the City and Guilds Horticulture group working on their syllabus.
Then, Sophie joined the students in the food technology room as they learned how to make bread. These were primary-aged pupils. She grabbed an apron and worked with them during the kneading process. The next room on her tour was the MILE Room (Multi-Interactive Learning Environment). Sophie was interested in meeting all the students there and the room’s design.
Finally, Her Royal Highness had an opportunity to meet the entire school community. She unveiled a commemorative plaque for her visit. Luke Etherington, 18, presented her with a basket of spring flowers. While nine-year-old Chloe Fryer presented the Countess with a hand-made card.