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The Countess of Wessex to celebrate 150th aniversery of New College school for the blind

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On Friday, New College in Worcester will mark its 150th anniversary with a royal visit by the Countess of Wessex. New College is a college and residential school for blind and partially sighted pupils.

Originally founded in 1866 as Worcester College for the “blind sons of gentlemen” at the Commandery, before later moving to Powick then its current location in 1902. In 1944, it became a grammar school for blind young boys. It wasn’t until 1987 when it merged with Chorleywood College to become a co-educational comprehensive RNIB New College Worcester. Today, it is a non-maintained independent, special school.

During her hour-long visit, the Countess will be given a tour of the school on Whittington Road, which includes its independent living skills department where students learn essential life skills to utilise once they leave the college. She will also hear a performance by the students.

Sophie will also learn of the outreach work New College is providing blind and visually impaired students across the United Kingdom. New College has already celebrated its Jubilee Day, with past and present students in attendance. A summer concert is planned along with an oral history project involving participation from both alumni and current students. To cap off 2016, a Christmas concert will be held at Worcester Cathedral.

Principal, Mardy Smith, said: “It is a great honour to have a royal visitor to the college, and it is particularly special as this year is our 150th anniversary. We hope to give the Countess of Wessex a flavour of what we do here with our young people, in terms of both their educational achievements and in their preparation for living independently when they move on from NCW. “A lot of what we do is about building confidence and self-esteem and I hope that this will be evident during the visit.”

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