The first two capital projects of Benenden School’s ambitious Centenary Vision development programme have been formally opened today (Saturday 10 September).
Cheered on by enthusiastic girls, television personality Davina McCall opened the stunning new All-Weather Sports Pitch and Pavilion, in front of dozens of parents, guests and supporters. The guests were also entertained by cheerleaders from the John Wallis Church of England Academy and we were delighted that two international Hockey players, Sarah Haycroft and Zoe Shipperley, were in attendance.
Earlier in the afternoon, the eight new staff homes on the Benenden campus were officially declared open by Chairman of Council Anna Birkett and two students.
The completion of these two projects, which have cost around £4million in total, represents significant progress in realising the School’s Centenary Vision. This Vision is dedicated to further enhancing the Complete Education offered to girls at Benenden, which includes supporting our innovative curriculum with state-of-the-art new facilities.
The All-Weather Pitch will allow the girls to play sports, primarily Lacrosse and Hockey, all through the winter, which will dramatically increase the amount of training time they receive. Benenden’s U15B Lacrosse team are already National Champions and we hope this new facility will help enhance the standard even more.
The accompanying pavilion includes changing rooms for players and officials, as well as catering facilities, together with covered and terraced spectator areas, which the School hopes will further attract support from families and friends at matches.
After declaring the facility open, Davina McCall said: “I was delighted to be invited to open the All-Weather Sports Pitch and Pavilion here at Benenden.
“It’s so important for young people to lead an active lifestyle and this awesome new sports facility will be a huge asset for Benenden girls. I wish I’d had something this good when I was at school!”
These first facilities delivered as part of the Centenary Vision have been welcomed by students at Benenden.
Olivia Bullman, 15, said: “The new pitch is amazing and I can’t wait to start playing on it! This means we can train much more than we’ve been able to in the past and we’ll be even stronger at sport.”
The new Staff Houses have been built to allow more employees and their families to live on site. As a boarding school, evenings and weekends are just as vital to Benenden girls’ education and development as time in the classroom. Extra staff living on site means the girls receive even greater support and really adds to the strength of our community.
Lara Evans, 15, said: “We’re really well looked after here at Benenden and it’s great that the new houses mean there are even more staff on site. It creates even more of a buzz about the place, especially when the staff have young children and pets: it’s like living in a really friendly family community.”
Benenden Headmistress Samantha Price said: “We are delighted to officially open these wonderful new facilities and are incredibly grateful to Davina McCall for her time.
“Here at Benenden we offer girls a Complete Education – academic excellence with an exceptional array of extra-curricular activities. The new Staff Housing and the All-Weather Pitch and Pavilion are the first completed capital projects of our Centenary Vision programme which will ensure girls are getting the very best facilities to support our innovative curriculum to let them succeed in the modern world.
“We are thrilled that students from the John Wallis Church of England Academy were able to join us for this special occasion and we look forward to sharing the facility with the local community.”
The next building project will be the construction of a new School Hall and the establishment of a new Music School.
The Centenary Vision was launched in April 2015 by HRH The Princess Royal, a former Benenden pupil who is Founders’ Patron of the School.
As part of the Centenary Vision, the School is also expanding the Benenden School Trust Award programme, which offers bursaries to girls who would otherwise be unable to afford the fees to experience an outstanding Benenden education. Year Six girls from 18 primary schools in a 7.5-mile radius of Benenden are eligible to apply for these bursaries.
Also, the School has recently refurbished its Sixth Form Common Room into a modern and stylish coffee bar, complete with neon sign!